FRANKFURT — A court in Braunschweig, Germany, on Thursday said it had opened proceedings against former Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn examining whether he is guilty of market manipulation as part of an emissions scandal.
Winterkorn and other Volkswagen executives face charges for their role in allowing diesel cars with excessive pollution levels to hit the road, and for failing to inform investors about the extend of the emissions fraud.
The carmaker has paid out more than 30 billion euros in fines and penalties for emissions cheating, which was uncovered by U.S. authorities in September 2015.
The court is examining whether Volkswagen had a duty to inform investors earlier about the extent of potential fines it could face. Volkswagen has said the extent of the fines were not forseeable.
A lawyer for Winterkorn could not immediately be reached for comment but has previously denied the charges.
German prosecutors said on Wednesday they had charged another eight employees of the automaker over the scandal surrounding cheating on diesel engine emission tests.
The eight are accused of fraud, false certification and violation of the law against unfair competition, the prosecutor’s office in the northern town of Braunschweig said in a statement.
Some are also alleged to be responsible for embezzlement and tax evasion, or for aiding and abetting those crimes.
The eight are accused of being involved in the diesel manipulation between November 2006 and September 2015.
They are accused of encouraging, supporting or at least not preventing the installation of illegal software in the engine management system of diesel vehicles produced by Volkswagen despite knowing it was illegal.
The first trial in the Volkswagen case in Germany starts next week — that of former Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler.