Volkswagen: Winterkorn Trial Set for Delay

The trial of Martin Winterkorn, former Volkswagen CEO, is set to be delayed. Mr. Winterkorn is facing charges bordering on conspiracy to commit organized commercial fraud. This information is from a court probing Volkswagen’s 2015 diesel emissions scandal.

Seventy-four-year-old Winterkorn who it’s reported needs a hip operation, could have his case severed from four other Volkswagen executives who are also facing charges for their role in selling diesel cars with illegal emissions-masking software.

If health issues prevent Winterkorn from participating in the trial slated to begin September 16, proceedings for the other four accused will go on, according to a court spokesperson. However, the decision is still not final.

US authorities unraveled the diesel emissions scandal, costing Volkswagen more than €30 billion (around $35 billion) in legal outlay, refits and settlements. As expected, a massive management and strategy overhaul followed suit.

Winterkorn’s lawyers say he denies all charges, and the coronavirus has caused repeated delays  to the start of the trial. If the hip operation goes as planned, the former Chief Executive would only be healthy enough to face trial by mid-2022.

But, if the court prefers to conclude the trial of the other four executives, the main proceedings against Martin Winterkorn might possibly begin in the latter part of 2023.

If there was one case where observers can expect plenty of finger-pointing, it’s this one. It’s one where people can readily point to the fact that automation is probably not as transparent as software buffs will have us believe. Whatever the case, somebody made the defining call that ensured those cars hit the road with software designed to deceive the authorities. The question is, “Who is that ‘somebody’?”

One thing is certain, the five former executives will work hard to exonerate themselves. Their lawyers have enough technical nous to help them with that. Will the some unassuming software developer be the fall guy instead? Only time can tell.

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