Former VW Chairman Says Execs Knew About Cheating Scandal Earlier
Ferdinand Piëch claims ex-CEO Winterkorn, key board members knew of rigged engines earlier than claimed; VW threatens legal action in response.
Ferdinand Piëch, who once reigned as arguably the most powerful man in the automotive industry as chairman and CEO of Volkswagen Group, is back in the spotlight, and he's once again throwing bombs throughout the executive suite at VW.
Piëch, grandson of Ferdinand Porsche and still a key shareholder, is again claiming that former CEO Martin Winterkorn and other board members knew about the diesel emissions-cheating situation months before it went public. Winterkorn, in particular, has recently come under greater scrutiny by German authorities for his possible role in the scandal.
According to Germany's Bild (as reported by Bloomberg), Piëch, 79, told prosecutors that he knew of the rigged engines in February of 2015, and shared the information with Winterkorn and key supervisory board members; the fact that 11 million vehicles had been equipped with "defeat devices" to fool emissions tests did not come to light until September of that year.
The embattled Volkswagen board has already responded to the allegations, releasing a statement that says those same claims were made by Piëch during an independent investigation in the Spring of 2016, were investigated "in close detail" by law firm Jones Day, and subsequently "classified as implausible overall."
The statement, reprinted in its entirety below, also threatens Piëch with legal action, stating: "The Board of Management will carefully weigh the possibility of measures and claims against Mr. Piëch."
The so-called "dieselgate" scandal has already cost Volkswagen Group at least $23 billion in vehicle buybacks, fines, and other charges, according to Bloomberg.
Piëch, it should be noted, lost an internal power struggle to then-CEO Winterkorn just months before the diesel scandal hit, and left the company.
Statement by the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG
The Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG emphatically repudiates the assertions made by Ferdinand Piëch as reported recently in the media.
A similar account, which alongside the former CEO was directed above all against a number of current and former members of the Executive Committee of the Supervisory Board, was already given by Ferdinand Piëch in spring 2016 in the context of the internal, independent investigations. This account was subsequently examined in close detail by law firm Jones Day. No evidence was forthcoming indicating the accuracy of these allegations, which were classified as implausible overall. In addition, all affected members of the Executive Committee of the Supervisory Board, acting independently of each other, have unequivocally and emphatically rejected all assertions made by Ferdinand Piëch as untrue.
The Board of Management will carefully weigh the possibility of measures and claims against Mr. Piëch.
As a general principle the Group declines to comment on ongoing investigations.
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