(FinancialPress) — Once again, Volkswagen is in the crosshairs. The car manufacturer is being accused of a second instance of attempted cover up of real diesel emissions – just as it intends to moves past its previous scandal, which stemmed from the same reason.
Former chief executive Martin Winkertorn is the top suspect. The new accusations have led US prosecutors to unseal an indictment that accuses Winkertorn of being part of a cover-up that involved all ranks of the company.
“Volkswagen’s scheme to cheat its legal requirements went all the way to the top of the company,” said a statement by US Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions. “If you try to deceive the United States, then you will pay a heavy price.”
Volkswagen () shares had just begun to rise back up from the plunge they took when the first scandal was uncovered. In it, the carmaker admitted to having as many as 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide fitted with software that allowed them to cheat emissions tests.
Even though that case was settled, the new indictment of former Winkertorn raises doubts about just how deep the involvement of upper management in the scheme actually was.
Volkswagen had previously stated that senior execs did not know about the emissions cheating until late 2015. The US‘ new allegations challenge this, and could be used as leverage for investors to levy a lawsuit against the company for not disclosing such practices.
“Volkswagen could have a problem in compensating stockholders for their losses — those cases have become more realistic,” said Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, founder of the Center of Automotive Research at University of Duisburg-Essen.