Federal Prosecutors have indicted six executives at German automaker Volkswagen in connection with diesel emissions scandal.
The six executives include a former head of development of the Volkswagen brand and the head of engine development. Five of the six executives are thought to be residing in Germany. The sixth executive was arrested at an airport in Miami as he was trying to leave for Germany.
The five Volkswagen employees charged on Wednesday were Heinz-Jakob Neusser, 56, who oversaw development of the company’s brand; Jens Hadler, 50, who oversaw engine development; Richard Dorenkamp, 68, another supervisor of engine development; Bernd Gottweis, 69, who helped oversee quality management; and Jürgen Peter, 59, who was a liaison between regulatory agencies and the carmaker.
Additional executives at the company are being investigated and could potentially face charges, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said.
The pursuit of executives by criminal prosecutors is a rare occurrence among big companies, whose top people almost never face jail time. The Volkswagen case is the first major test of a Justice Department commitment to hold executives more accountable.
Officials states that the Volkswagen case stood out because the deception lasted 10 years and involved senior managers.
“We can’t put companies in jail, but we can hold employees accountable, and we can force companies to pay hefty fines,” said Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Volkswagen has agreed to plead guilty to three criminal counts and pay $4.3 billion in criminal and civil fines in the settlement.