German prosecutors say they have launched a formal probe into alleged market manipulation by Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive at Volkswagen, in relation to the diesel emissions scandal.
Wolfsburg prosecutors said Monday that Winterkorn will be investigated alongside one other unnamed Volkswagen employee for failing to inform shareholders about the scandal in a timely fashion.
Sources told dpa that the other person being investigated is Herbert Diess, brand chief at Volkswagen and a member of the carmaker's management board. Prosecutors declined to confirm this citing privacy considerations.
Winterkorn, who resigned from Volkswagen in September shortly after the scandal was made public, is already being investigated on "allegations of fraud in the sale of cars with manipulated emissions data."
The investigation was launched in response to a criminal complaint by BaFin, Germany's financial supervisory authority.
In the German legal system, individuals and organizations can file a criminal complaint with prosecutors, who are then obliged to examine it and decide whether there is enough evidence to open a formal investigation.
Prosecutor Klaus Ziehe said he could not estimate how long the probe would take, adding that "the parties will now have to be heard and further witnesses questioned."
Some of Volkswagen's own staff warned years ago about the illegal use of so-called "defeat devices" to detect when a car was being tested and alter the running of its engines. Shareholders were informed on September 22.