VW’s New CEO: What He Knew about Emissions Scandal and When He Knew It

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When Volkswagen AG’s diesel emissions cheating scandal was exposed in September of 2015, the revelations ultimately cost the company more than $27 billion in fines and penalties, and also cost former CEO Martin Winterkorn his job. VW’s new CEO, Herbert Diess, may now be in jeopardy.

Germany’s Der Spiegel reported Saturday that recently unsealed documents from the German prosecutor’s office reveal that Diess and Winterkorn were both present at a meeting in July where VW’s senior managers and engineers discussed a warning the company had received from U.S. regulators threatening to ban sales of VW’s diesel cars due to excessive emissions levels.

According to Reuters, at the July meeting, Winterkorn asked Diess whether BMW, which Diess left in June to join VW as head of its VW brand, also installed software in BMW cars to defeat emissions testing. Diess reportedly replied that BMW did not use such software.

Whether or not Diess was privy to knowledge of what BMW was doing hasn’t been established, but in July of 2017, Der Spiegel reported that BMW also used a device to defeat emissions testing. In March of this year, prosecutors in Munich raided BMW’s headquarters searching for documents related to the defeat devices.

According to a March report in The New York Times, BMW admitted that it had unintentionally installed software to defeat emissions testing on 11,400 of its cars and that it was recalling the cars to fix the error. None of the cars was sold in the United States.

VW responded to inquiries about the latest document release with the following statement:

The contents of the discussion, where Martin Winterkorn and Herbert Diess were present, cannot be fully reconstructed, because the recollections of the people who were present partially deviate.

VW said that the job of figuring out whose recollections were correct belonged with prosecutors and the courts, not Volkswagen.