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German prosecutors have widened their probe into the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal to include Matthias Mueller, who became chief executive just weeks after the scandal was revealed, according to WirtschaftsWoche.
The German weekly says Stuttgart public prosecutors have included Mr Mueller in their investigation of possible market manipulation, alongside Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive, and Hans-Dieter Poetsch, the current chairman and former finance chief.
Volkswagen declined to comment on the report. Porsche SE did not respond immediately return a request for comment.
Volkswagen admitted in September 2015 to equipping up to 11m cars worldwide with software that enabled them to pass emissions tests even though they were polluting at up to 40 times the permitted level in normal road conditions. The market-manipulation probe focuses on whether executive should have informed investors about the “defeat device” software earlier.
Mr Mueller was head of sports-car maker Porsche AG when the scandal became public in September 2015. He was also responsible for strategy and corporate development at Porsche SE, the separately listed parent company of Volkswagen that is headquartered in Stuttgart.
The Stuttgart investigators are looking at possible market manipulation at is relates to Porsche SE, not Volkswagen.
Investigators in Braunschweig, near VW’s Wolfsburg headquarters, are conducting their own market-manipulation probe that already includes Mr Winterkorn and Mr Poetsch.
The investigation would be the first time that Mr Mueller has linked to the scandal in any form.
Stuttgart launched an investigation following a July 2016 complaint by BaFin, Germany’s Financial Supervisory Authority, which linked several Porsche SE executive to possible market manipulation.
Volkswagen has previously stated that when executives first learned of the cheating, they did not understand the extent of the scandal or the magnitude of the possible fines involved. In a statement to prosecutors in March, VW said the regulatory fine in the US was assumed to be “in a two-digit or lower three-digit million” range — not material for a company with more than €200bn in revenue.
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