Volkswagen probe finds manipulation was open secret in department: newspaper

Sat Jan 23, 2016 6:29am EST
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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen's (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) development of software to cheat diesel-emissions tests was an open secret in its engine development department, Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said on Friday, citing results from VW's internal investigation.

Many managers and staff dealing with emissions problems in the department knew of or were involved in developing the "defeat devices", said the newspaper, which researched the matter with regional broadcasters NDR and WDR.

A culture of collective secrecy prevailed within the department, where the installation of the defeat software that would cause the carmaker's biggest ever corporate crisis was openly discussed as long ago as 2006, Sueddeutsche said.

But it said there were exceptions: a whistleblower, who was himself involved in the deception and has been giving evidence to investigators hired by Volkswagen, alerted a senior manager outside the department in 2011.

This manager, however, did not react, the newspaper said.

Staff members in engine development felt pressure from the management board to find a cost effective solution to develop clean diesel engines for the U.S. market.

Rather than telling Volkswagen's management board the rules could not be adhered to, staff members in engine development decided to push ahead with manipulation, Sueddeutsche reported.

"Within the company there was a culture of 'we can do everything', so to say something cannot be done, was not acceptable," Sueddeutsche Zeitung said, quoting the VW internal report which included testimony from a staff member who took part in the fraud.

"Instead of coming clean to the management board that it cannot be done, it was decided to commit fraud," Sueddeutsche reported in its Saturday edition.   Continued...

Volkswagen cars are lined up for sale at a car shop in Bad Honnef near Bonn, Germany, November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay