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German court opens criminal proceedings against former Volkswagen CEO

FILE PHOTO: Former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn leaves after testifying to a German parliamentary committee on the carmaker's emissions scandal in Berlin, Germany, January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A court in Braunschweig, Germany, said on Thursday it had opened proceedings against former Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE CEO Martin Winterkorn, examining whether he is guilty of market manipulation as part of the carmaker's emissions scandal.

Winterkorn and other Volkswagen executives face charges for their role in allowing diesel cars with excessive pollution levels to hit the road, and for allegedly failing to inform investors adequately about the extent of the emissions fraud.

The carmaker has paid out more than 30 billion euros ($35 billion) in fines and penalties for cheating emissions tests, which was uncovered by U.S. authorities in September 2015.

The court is examining whether Volkswagen had a duty to inform investors earlier about the size of potential fines. Volkswagen has said the level of the fines was not foreseeable.

On Thursday, a spokesman for the carmaker reiterated the company had fulfilled all disclosure requirements related to the diesel scandal.

Felix Doerr, a lawyer for Winterkorn, said his client rejects the allegations that he failed in his duty to inform markets in a timely fashion.

Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Mark Potter

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