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London (CNN Business)German prosecutors have charged former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn with fraud on gas emissions.

Prosecutors at Braunschweig announced Monday the Winterkorn was one of five individuals indicted in a situation about the automaker’s petrol emissions-cheating scandal.

Winterkorn has been accused of an especially serious fraud,” according to a statement from prosecutors, who believed he was aware that gas emissions were being manipulated as ancient as 2014 but neglected to inform authorities and customers.

The SEC is accusing Volkswagen and its former CEO of 'massive fraud'

He was also charged with embezzlement and violating competition law.

    Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating on clean air rules using software that produced emissions look less toxic than they actually were.

    Prosecutors said Monday the Winterkorn failed to halt the practice, resulting in”substantially higher” penalties against Volkswagen from Europe and the USA.

    Volkswagen (VLKAF) declined to comment on the charges, describing them as a private matter.

    Winterkorn was indicted by US federal prosecutors at 2018 on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy. He had been accused of dividing the Clean Air Act and defrauding Volkswagen’s American clients.

      The US Securities and Exchange Commission also announced last month it was suing Volkswagen and Winterkorn, telling them of doing”a massive fraud.”

      The industry regulator said that Volkswagen and Winterkorn fraudulently increased billions of dollars from shareholders, for example by overplaying the firm’s environmental credentials.

      Chris Liakos and Stephanie Halasz contributed to this article.

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