Prosecutors in Braunschweig announced Monday that Winterkorn was one of five people indicted in a case related to the automaker’s diesel emissions-cheating scandal.
Winterkorn has been accused of a particularly serious fraud, according to a statement from prosecutors, who allege that he was aware that diesel emissions were being manipulated as early as 2014 but failed to inform authorities and customers.
He was also charged with embezzlement and violating competition law.
Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating on clean air rules with software that made emissions look less toxic than they actually were.
Prosecutors said Monday that Winterkorn failed to stop the practice, resulting in “significantly higher” fines against Volkswagen in Europe and the United States.
Volkswagen (VLKAF) declined to comment on the charges, describing them as a private matter.
Winterkorn was indicted by US federal prosecutors in 2018 on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy. He was accused of defrauding Volkswagen’s American customers and violating the Clean Air Act.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission also announced last month that it was suing Volkswagen and Winterkorn, accusing them of carrying out “a massive fraud.”
The market regulator said that Volkswagen and Winterkorn fraudulently raised billions of dollars from investors, including by overplaying the firm’s environmental credentials.
Chris Liakos and Stephanie Halasz contributed to this article.