Volkswagen Settles Emissions Charges Against Two Managers

In return, prosecutors will drop the charges against Hans Dieter Pötsch, the chairman of Volkswagen’s supervisory board, and Herbert Diess, the chief executive, the company said in a statement. The company did not admit any wrongdoing.

The penalty is relatively modest compared to the over 20 billion euros that the company has paid in connection with the scandal.

The settlement removes a legal burden from Mr. Diess as he tries to steer Volkswagen through a brutal downturn. Registrations of new passenger cars plummeted 76 percent in April, the biggest drop on record, because of coronavirus lockdowns, the European Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Tuesday.

Volkswagen is still recovering from the financial damage that occurred after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused the carmaker in 2015 of illegally cloaking poisonous emissions for almost a decade.

Mr. Pötsch was the chief financial officer at Volkswagen during the time that the illegal software was being developed and deployed, but he has maintained that he had no knowledge of it. He was named chairman of the supervisory board in October 2015, only weeks after the emissions cheating became public. Mr. Pötsch is a close confidant of the Porsche and Piëch families, who own a majority of Volkswagen’s voting shares.

Mr. Diess has been trying to remake Volkswagen as a leader in electric vehicles, while also trying to reassure American officials that the company has become more ethical and less scandal-prone — a condition of a plea bargain in the United States. The resolution of the charges removes a major distraction for Mr. Diess as he faces the other challenges.

Volkswagen said Wednesday that the company, rather than the executives, would pay the fines of 4.5 million euros each. The supervisory board said in a statement that it was “convinced that Mr. Pötsch and Dr. Diess did not — in connection with the public prosecutor’s office’s accusation to which the market manipulation proceedings relate — breach any duties” to the corporation.

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