German court opens criminal proceeedings against former VW CEO Winterkorn

FRANKFURT — A German court on Thursday opened proceedings against former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, examining whether he is guilty of market manipulation as part of an emissions scandal.

Winterkorn and other VW executives face charges for their role in allowing diesel cars with excessive pollution levels to be sold, and for failing to inform investors about the extend of the emissions fraud.

VW has paid out more than 30 billion euros ($35 billion) in fines and penalties for emissions cheating, which was uncovered by U.S. authorities in September 2015.

The court in Brunswick in VW’s home state of Lower Saxony, Germany, is examining whether VW had a duty to inform investors earlier about the extent of potential fines. VW for its part has said the extent of the fines were not forseeable.

A lawyer for Winterkorn could not immediately be reached for comment but has previously denied the charges.

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