Ex-VW CEO Winterkorn to face emissions fraud trial in Germany

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Former Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn and four others must stand trial over serious fraud charges in Germany for their role in the diesel-rigging scandal that has cost the automaker more than 30 billion euros ($35 billion) so far.

The former chief and four other managers were charged last year with equipping vehicles sold to customers with a so-called defeat device.

A court in Brunswick, Germany, allowed the case to proceed Wednesday, but modified some of the charges, saying the suspects could also be tried for acting as a criminal gang.

“The fraud charges concern 9 million vehicles sold in Europe and the U.S.,” the court said in an emailed statement. “Buyers may have lost 100 million euros.”

VW and Winterkorn’s lawyer Felix Doerr did not immediately reply to emails seeking comment.

The court dropped some minor charges, including breach of trust, against Winterkorn.

The judges told prosecutors that they are likely to reject their demand to have the executive’s bonus seized as part of the case.

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