FILE - In this March 12, 2009 file photo Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the board of the Volkswagen group, during the annual press conference in Wolfsburg, northern Germany. (AP Photo/Joerg Sarbach)
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German prosecutors launched an investigation on Monday into fraud allegations against former Volkswagen boss Martin Winterkorn over the carmaker's rigging of diesel emissions tests.Volkswagen has admitted cheating diesel emissions tests in the United States but Germany's transport minister says it also rigged tests in Europe, where it has much bigger sales, and it faces the worst business crisis in its 78-year history.Volkswagen and Audi declined to comment, while the suspended executives could not immediately be reached.Winterkorn, the highest paid CEO on Germany's blue-chip DAX stock market last year, could also not be reached for comment. He had been at the helm of Volkswagen for almost nine years.Two German newspapers said on Sunday Volkswagen's own staff and one of its suppliers had 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 diesel engine to conceal their emissions of toxic nitrogen oxides.The scandal has also rocked the wider car market, with manufacturers fearing a drop in diesel car sales and more costly regulations, and customers furious that Volkswagen has not given more details about what might happen to their cars.Volkswagen has still not said whether the affected models would have to be recalled and refitted.
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