The watch for former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn to receive criminal charges is on, as German prosecutors have officially opened a criminal investigation. Volkswagen recently admitted to using cheating devices to mislead officials about emission outputs in more than 11 million of its diesel vehicles.
The investigation focuses around fraud, as the company marketed its cars as “clean diesel”. The vehicles were said to have output as much as forty times the amount of emissions allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States. The goal of the investigation will be to try and determine who exactly was responsible for attempting to cheat regulations.
Volkswagen has stated that they plan to fully cooperate with authorities in the investigation.
The investigation comes five days after Winterkorn resigned as CEO. The scandal depleted $25.7 billion from the market value of Volkswagen.
Additionally, the incident has caused widespread concern throughout the automotive industry. BMW recently lost market value due to public fear that their diesel motors had also been affected. However, German officials have stressed that the scandal has not spread beyond Volkswagen.
Switzerland recently banned the sales of affected models from the German car company. Meanwhile, regulators in Germany said that the company must provide a solution for the 2.8 million affected vehicles in their country, or else they will be taken off the German streets.
Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller took over as Volkswagen CEO last Friday. Mueller will certainly need his decades of experience in the automotive industry, as he attempts to guide the automotive company through this very troubling period and repair its tarnished image.
Representatives from Volkswagen have not commented on the criminal investigation.
Volkswagen lost as much as 8.2% in the German stock market on Monday. The company has lost 39% of its value since the scandal became public on September 18.