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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    As the Diesel Emits: Martin Winterkorn Reappears, Says Didn't Know About Cheating

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      Volkswagen's former CEO enters the spotlight again

    Ever since Martin Winterkorn resigned from his post as Volkswagen Group CEO due to diesel emission scandal sixteen months ago, he has been out of the spotlight. However, Winterkorn made his first public appearance today at a parliamentary committee in Berlin investigating the emission irregularities of automobiles. At the hearing, Winterkorn maintained his innocence, saying he had no part in the cheating, nor knew anything about it.

    “It’s incomprehensible why I wasn’t informed early and clearly. I would have prevented any type of deception or misleading of authorities,” said Winterkorn.

    Winterkorn declined to answer questions dealing with when he was informed about the scandal, saying prosecutors are still investigating.

    The defense that Winterkorn is using (not having any knowledge about the scandal until the news broke) is very much at odds with his reputation of being a detail-obsessed executive.

    “It remains difficult to believe that such a dedicated engineer like Winterkorn wasn’t aware what was going on. And if he wasn’t, he neglected his duties as supervisor,” said Stefan Bratzel, an auto industry researcher at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany to Bloomberg.

    There is also a fair amount of circumstantial evidence that shows Winterkorn knew about this. A year before the scandal broke, Winterkorn was alleged to get a memo talking about the investigation into the EA128 2.0L TDI engine. He claims that he never saw that memo. There is also the allegation that Winterkorn sat in a meeting discussing the investigation.

    Before leaving the hearing, Winterkorn apologized once again.

    “What happened makes people furious -- me too. I’m deeply upset that we disappointed millions of our customers,” said Winterkorn.

    Source: Bloomberg

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    My take on this is that he did not know about this when it was done and not till it was found. Of anyone I suspect those behind it would make sure he did not know as Germans do not break rules. Or so they think. 

    I think it went down this way. I feel from the top the engineers were ordered to make it happen or else. This is how many German companies function with a mind set of no failure. If you fail  you are replaced. 

    The engineers being clever hid the test program and figured they would get away with it as who would find it? Well we know the rest of the story from there. 

    I feel the engineers did it out of fear of losing their jobs and figured they had little to lose. 

    Now where Winterkorn comes in is was he part of any cover up after the fact. That is where I can see him coming in. The widow was small but that is where he could get into trouble. So while he did not order this to happen I am sure he may be investigated for how much he knew when and did he cover it up or not. 

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    I see your point you are making and will agree to disagree. He was an obsessive controller, he know what he wanted and to hell with everyone else. It might never have come to him in email or letter form or any group presentation, but he would want to know the details of how they were getting this done and when it would be ready. I doubt he was that blind to it.

    Can VW get his outrageous golden parachute returned as they will need it to help pay the fines.

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