A federal grand jury in Detroit has indicted former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn with conspiracy and wire fraud in the car builder's scheme to rig diesel emissions tests.
"If you try to deceive the United States, then you will pay a heavy price," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday. "The indictment unsealed today alleges that Volkswagen's scheme to cheat its legal requirements went all the way to the top of the company."
Winterkorn is alleged to have conspired with other top Volkswagen bosses to defraud the U.S. government and consumers with false claims that the company was complying with the Clean Air Act.
Volkswagen already admitted it installed devices on diesel models designed to turn on pollution control devices during emissions tests and turn them off when the car is driven on actual highways.
Volkswagen was fined $2.5 billion and ordered to recall the affected cars.
Winkerton is the ninth Volkswagen executive or employee to be charged. However, he currently lives in Germany, which has no extradition treaty with the United States, and is unlikely ever to see the inside of the U.S. courtroom.