Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn is already being investigated by German prosecutors over market manipulation because of the diesel emission scandal. But now, he finds himself under a new investigation by prosecutors on the suspicion of fraud.
Reuters reports that prosecutors in Braunschweig believe Winterkorn knew about the cheat used on the 2.0L TDI well before the timeframe he has admittedly publicly. This suspicion comes as the result of numerous interviews with witnesses and suspects, along with raids on 28 houses and offices this week.
"Sufficient indications have resulted from the investigation, particularly the questioning of witnesses and suspects as well as the analysis of seized data, that the accused (Winterkorn) may have known about the manipulating software and its effects sooner than he has said publicly," prosecutors said in a statement.
At a hearing last week in Berlin, Winterkorn declined to say when he first learned about the cheat, citing the investigation being done by prosecutors.
"For now, Dr. Winterkorn is sticking with the statement he made before a German parliamentary committee of inquiry (into the scandal) on Jan. 19," said Felix Doerr, a lawyer representing Winterkorn in an email to Reuters.
Prosecutors also revealed that the number of people possibly involved in the scandal has risen from 21 to 37, including Winterkorn.