The prosecution in Braunschweig announced on Monday that Winterkorn was one of five people charged in a case involving the scam industry scandal.
According to a statement by the prosecutor Winterkorn was accused of a particularly serious fraud. The indictment will be punished with a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.
The former CEO was also charged with unfaithfulness and breach of competition law. You could order him to repay the bonuses received as a reward for the sale.
Winterkorn lawyer Felix Dörr said he could only comment on the charges if he read the full indictment.
The prosecution stated that they had filed the indictment and 75,000 pages of additional evidence before a court in Braunschweig, which will decide whether Winterkorn is in court.
Another 36 people are still under investigation.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission also announced last month that it had sued Volkswagen and Winterkorn, accusing them of having "committed a massive fraud."
The market regulation authority said that Volkswagen and Winterkorn fraudulently charged billions of dollars from investors, including by exaggerating the company's environmental performance.
In Germany, sales of diesel cars from Volkswagen are recovering. Around 43% of all Volkswagen automobiles sold in Germany last year were diesel fuel. This corresponds to a share of 49% before the scandal.
Chris Liakos and Stephanie Halasz contributed to this article.