German newspaper Bild am Sonntag received leaked internal Volkswagen memos and emails that suggest that then-CEO Martin Winterkorn and his executive team were informed in 2014 of the lethal Dieselgate scam the company had perpetrated, and decided to stall and obfuscate to avoid penalties for emitting titanic amounts of the toxic NOX.
Winterkorn told Congress, investors and regulators that he didn't discover the fraud until it was publicly revealed by independent investigators.
According to the documents reviewed by The Times, a confidant of Mr. Winterkorn wrote to him in May 2014, warning that regulators might accuse the carmaker of using a so-called defeat device — software that recognized when the car was being tested for emissions and activated pollution-control equipment. At other times, the cars produced up to 35 times the allowed amount of nitrogen oxide emissions, which are linked to lung ailments and premature deaths.
It was not until last September, more than a year after the letter of warning to Mr. Winterkorn, that Volkswagen admitted publicly that 11 million diesel vehicles, including about 480,000 Volkswagen cars in the United States, were equipped with defeat devices. The number of cars in the United States has since risen to include about 100,000 Audi and Porsche cars with diesel engines.
Volkswagen Memos Suggest Company Misled U.S. Regulators [Jack Ewing/NYT]
(via Ars Technica)
(Image: Martin Winterkorn, Kaiketsu, CC-BY)