Why Germany backed off on market manipulation charges against former VW CEO

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Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn will not face a criminal trial in Germany for alleged market manipulation as part of the automaker’s emissions scandal, but a separate court case on a more serious charge will go ahead.

Winterkorn was charged by prosecutors in Brunswick in VW’s German home state of Lower Saxony with failing to inform investors early enough about the extent of the automaker’s emissions fraud.

The charges have now been discontinued, the Brunswick regional court said in a statement on Friday.

Winterkorn, 73, faces charges in another case for his role in allowing diesel cars with excessive pollution levels to be sold in Germany. He is due to appear in court at the end of February.

The offense of market manipulation is punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to five years. A conviction for commercial fraud carries a punishment of 1-10 years in jail.

“In this context, the conviction for market manipulation would not lead to a significant increase in the overall sentence,” the court said in a statement.

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess and Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch were also charged with market manipulation. VW agreed in May 2020 to pay 9 million euros ($10.9 million) in penalties to end the proceedings.

Reuters contributed to this report

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Saurabh Shukla

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