March 18, 2016 / 5:08 PM / 3 years ago

VW managers knew of possible penalties in August 2015: Der Spiegel

A flag of a Volkswagen VW car dealer is seen in Bochum, Germany March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) VW brand chief and its head of procurement were told in an internal meeting on Aug. 24, 2015 that the German carmaker could face potential penalties of more than $20 billion for the use of illegal software in its vehicles, weekly Der Spiegel reported on Friday.

Citing people who took part in a meeting of the VW brand management board, the magazine said that brand chief Herbert Diess and Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz were told that illegal software was installed in diesel cars by Volkswagen in the United States.

Volkswagen said any information Spiegel believed to have was “pure speculation”, and any conclusions were based on a subjective depictions of events.

The cheating, which U.S. authorities announced on Sept. 18, unleashed one of Volkswagen’s biggest-ever scandals, leading to the resignation of several senior managers and is likely to cost it tens of billions of dollars.

Volkswagen said this month its top management did not violate market disclosure rules and that it was taking legal action to fend off lawsuits claiming it had been too slow to inform investors about its rigging of diesel emissions tests.

Investors have lodged dozens of lawsuits at the German regional court in Braunschweig, claiming that VW failed to disclose its rigging of emissions tests after it had admitted to U.S. authorities on Sept. 3 it had used so-called defeat devices.

Diess and Garcia Sanz remain in their roles at Volkswagen. They could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Additional reporting by Jan Schwartz; Editing by Keith Weir

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