Ex-Volkswagen CEO denies early knowledge of diesel emissions cheating

Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:34am EST
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By Andreas Cremer

BERLIN (Reuters) - Former Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn refused to tell German lawmakers when he first learned about systematic exhaust emissions cheating but said it was no earlier than VW has officially admitted.

VW has said its executive board did not learn of the software violations until late August 2015 and formally reported the cheating to authorities in the United States in early September that year.

Upon being asked whether he had known about software cheating earlier, Winterkorn told a German parliamentary committee on Thursday: "That is not the case."

Winterkorn declined to be more specific about when he was informed because it was a matter that was still being investigated by German prosecutors.

"I too am looking for satisfactory answers," Winterkorn said in his first public remarks since he apologized for the scandal in a televised statement on Sept. 22, 2015, the day before he resigned as head of Europe's largest automaker.

"It's incomprehensible why I wasn't informed early and unambiguously," added Winterkorn, who oversaw a doubling in Volkswagen's sales and an almost tripling in profit during his eight years in charge.

VW last week agreed to pay the largest ever U.S. criminal fine levied on an automaker to settle charges that it conspired for nearly 10 years to cheat on diesel emission tests.

In total, VW has now agreed to spend up to $22 billion in the United States to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, U.S. states and dealers.   Continued...

Former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn arrives to testify to a German parliamentary committee on the carmaker's emissions scandal in Berlin, Germany, January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch