Volkswagen Winterkorn apology video screenshot

The German judiciary has targetted former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn and a current member of the VW group management board in a criminal investigation over the “Dieselgate” scandal.

It was reported in Automotive News that the prosecutor’s office in Brunswick, Germany – which is in VW’s home state of Lower Saxony – has initiated an investigation in which, if Winterkorn and the unnamed board member are found guilty, could mean five years’ jail, or a fine.

The investigation is based on “sufficient real signs” which indicate VW failed in its duty to disclose the possible financial damage of its attempts to manipulate emissions testing for its diesel engines prior to September 22, 2015, when VW made a public admission over its illegal circumvention of emissions testing.

VW diesel engine

While the investigation is not uncovering any new facts, the prosecutor’s office did confirm that current VW chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch – VW’s chief of finance at the time Dieselgate broke – was not a person of interest, or under suspicion. VW said in a statement that its own internal legal examination have not disclosed any clear or severe breach of duty of any members of the board, current or previous.

Winterkorn stepped down as CEO of VW last September after VW admitted to cheating in US emissions tests, and disclosed that the emissions-cheating software had been installed in 11 million vehicles sold around the world. Concurrently, reports have emerged that VW is considering removing 40 models from the range of vehicles it manufactures across the group.