Volkswagen Group has said it will seek to claim damages from its former CEO and chairman, as well as the ex-Audi boss following breaches to their ‘duty of care’ at the company, which led to the dieselgate scandal.
In a statement released yesterday, Volkswagen AG said that it had drawn a line under and ended its investigation into the scandal, which began in October 2015.
However, the result of the investigation is it will be seeking damages from the ex-chairman Martin Winterkorn and Audi AG boss Rupert Stadler, both of whom it deemed responsible for the failures at the group.
It said the supervisory board has deemed Winterkorn breached his duty of care as chairman of the board at VW Group by failing to ‘comprehensively and promptly clarify the circumstances behind the use of unlawful software functions in 2.0l TDI diesel engines sold in the North America between 2009 and 2015’.
It added that he ‘also failed to ensure that the questions asked by the US authorities in this context were answered truthfully, completely and without delay’.
The statement concluded similar breaches by Stadler. It said he failed from September 21, 2016, ‘to ensure that 3.0l and 4.2l V-TDI diesel engines developed by Audi and installed in EU vehicles of Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche were investigated with regard to unlawful software functions’.
Hearings in the criminal case are ongoing, having been pushed back until last September due to the pandemic but it is likely they will continue for years to come.
US courts have also charged Winterkorn with conspiracy and wire fraud.
A week after the scandal broke in October 2015, Winterkorn resigned as VW Group CEO.
Both Winterkorn and Stadler have denied being responsible for the scandal.
The scandal cost Volkswagen more than €32bn (£27.3bn) in fines, refits and legal costs.
They are not the only two board members to be identified as having breached their duty of care and to be sent claims for damages.
The former members of the Audi AG board Ulrich Hackenberg and Stefan Knirsch, and Porsche board member Wolfgang Hatz are accused of the same but this time under stock corporation law.
Claims have also already been sought against Volkswagen Passenger Cars board member Heinz-Jakob Neußer.
VW has revealed little of its actual findings but said 65 petabytes – equivalent to 1024 terabytes – of data were secured as part of the investigation.
This included 480m documents with around 1.6m identified as relevant before screening and review. There were also 1,550 interviews conducted.
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