VW scan­dal deep­ens as pros­e­cu­tors probe chief

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

FRANK­FURT: Ger­man pros­e­cu­tors have widened a probe into sus­pected mar­ket ma­nip­u­la­tion by man­agers at Volk­swa­gen to in­clude the car­maker’s su­per­vi­sory board Chair­man Hans Di­eter Poetsch, VW said yes­ter­day. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which re­lates to Poetsch’s time as fi­nance chief of VW, is the lat­est fall­out from the car­maker’s ad­mis­sion last year that it cheated on diesel emis­sions tests. VW has ad­mit­ted that it in­stalled soft­ware that de­ac­ti­vated pol­lu­tion con­trols on more than 11 mil­lion diesel ve­hi­cles sold world­wide, rat­tling its global busi­ness, dam­ag­ing its rep­u­ta­tion and prompt­ing the de­par­ture of Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Martin Win­terkorn. Ad­ding to its woes, a Ger­man news­pa­per re­ported yes­ter­day that a US reg­u­la­tor found an­other cheat soft­ware de­vice in ve­hi­cles made by its lux­ury di­vi­sion Audi. The pa­per said the de­vice was not the same as the one which trig­gered last year’s diesel emis­sions scan­dal at Audi par­ent VW. Audi has de­clined to com­ment on the re­port.

The pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice in Braun­schweig first an­nounced the mar­ket ma­nip­u­la­tion probe in June, tar­get­ing for­mer CEO Win­terkorn and VW brand chief Herbert Diess for sus­pected mar­ket ma­nip­u­la­tion re­lated to the emis­sions scan­dal. The pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice said at the time that its probe cen­tred on ev­i­dence that VW’s duty to dis­close pos­si­ble fi­nan­cial dam­age from the emis­sions test cheat­ing may have arisen be­fore Sept. 22, 2015, when the car­maker pub­licly ad­mit­ted its wrong­do­ing.

“Based on a thor­ough ex­am­i­na­tion by in­ter­nal and in­ter­nal le­gal ex­perts, the com­pany reaf­firms its be­lief that VW’s man­age­ment ful­filled its du­ties to in­form the cap­i­tal mar­ket,” VW said on Sun­day. VW said the com­pany and Poetsch, who was fi­nance chief of Volk­swa­gen from 2003 un­til he be­came chair­man in Oc­to­ber 2015, would fully sup­port the pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice in its in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice in Braun­schweig was not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment.


Sun­day’s Bild am Son­ntag re­port said that the Cal­i­for­nia Air Re­sources Board (CARB) had made a new dis­cov­ery of cheat­ing soft­ware in an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion Audi in sum­mer 2016. CARB has de­clined to com­ment on the re­port. Audi, the main con­trib­u­tor to earn­ings at par­ent VW, had al­ready ad­mit­ted last year to us­ing il­licit emis­sions-con­trol de­vices in about 85,000 3.0 litre diesel en­gines and has so far this year set aside 752 mil­lion eu­ros ($838 mil­lion) to cover re­lated costs.

Bild am Son­ntag, which cited no sources, said the soft­ware in CARB’s new dis­cov­ery low­ered car­bon diox­ide emis­sions by de­tect­ing whether a car’s steer­ing wheel was turned as it would be if it was driv­ing on a road. If the steer­ing wheel was not turned, as if it was be­ing tested in a lab­o­ra­tory, the soft­ware turned on a gear-shift­ing pro­gram which pro­duced less car­bon diox­ide, al­low­ing the car to meet the emis­sions cri­te­ria.

— AP

BERLIN: In this March 13, 2014 file photo then Volk­swa­gen CEO Martin Win­terkorn (left), and then CFO Hans Di­eter Poetsch (right), talk prior to the com­pany’s an­nual press con­fer­ence in Berlin, Ger­many.

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