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Winterkorn in court: clueless in his own company | > – News

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Winterkorn in court: clueless in his own company |  > – News

As of: February 15, 2024 1:56 p.m

Even on the second day of his interrogation, ex-VW boss Winterkorn stuck to his guns: He had no idea about diesel fraud in the company until the end. According to him, this was also the fault of employees who did not clearly inform him.

by Hilke Janssen

The history of the diesel scandal at Volkswagen is long. On day two of his interrogation before the Braunschweig Higher Regional Court, Martin Winterkorn also has to testify about various meetings, conversations and notes since 2007. Winterkorn does not remember some crucial letters or meetings. The 76-year-old denies various conversations that other witnesses testified about. He may have underestimated some things. “In retrospect,” Winterkorn says at one point, “I should have asked more deeply.”

VIDEO: Diesel scandal: Ex-VW boss Winterkorn denies guilt (02/14/2024) (2 min)

Alarm bells didn’t ring

Winterkorn does not claim to have noticed that there have been indications of fraud involving diesel engines in the USA at Volkswagen since 2014 at the latest. He has taken note of multiple indications and reports that there were problems with emissions from diesel vehicles in the USA. However, Winterkorn emphasizes that he was repeatedly assured that the problems could be gotten under control. “If developers had said we couldn’t do it, the alarm bells would have rung,” said the former boss of the Wolfsburg car company. But that didn’t happen. During his interrogation on Wednesday, Winterkorn had already denied guilt in the diesel affair.

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Further information

Winterkorn could even stand trial as a defendant starting this fall. Questions and answers about the process can be found here. more

Annoyed by the employees’ silence

For many months, as Martin Winterkorn explained in court on Thursday, he, as CEO, was left in ignorance about what was going on in the group. In July 2015, a few weeks before the diesel scandal became known, there was a test drive in the US state of Florida. Test drives were carried out there with exactly the model that had not been approved in the USA due to the ongoing problems with diesel engines. Many high-ranking managers from VW and Audi were there, says Winterkorn. “But none of the gentlemen tell me: We don’t have approval yet.” According to his own account, the ex-VW boss only found out about the problems on the way home. “That really annoyed me personally.”

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We were “perhaps too confident” about the US catching up

Although there was a lot of information about the irregularities with diesel cars in the USA, Winterkorn admits that he either didn’t see it or didn’t ask about it in depth. And this despite the fact that the “Clean Diesel” project has been of the utmost strategic importance for VW since 2007. “We wanted to gain a foothold in the USA,” says Winterkorn. For a long time, the Wolfsburg-based cars were not well received in the USA. A race to catch up should begin with the “Clean Diesel”. When the judge asked whether that would not have required a “closer look” at the problems, Winterkorn said: “In retrospect, you ask yourself that.” However, at that time, says Winterkorn, he was sure that he had good chances with diesel in the USA. “Maybe too safe.”

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Winterkorn should have known more

Winterkorn’s statement is once again unsatisfactory for the plaintiff. It is not enough for the board of a company to claim that it was not informed, says plaintiff’s lawyer Axel Wegner. If there were indications of wrongdoing, Winterkorn should have “actively asked and inquired.” Basically, says Wegner, the board of a company must ensure that important information always reaches the top management. Also so that the shareholders could be informed in the next step. Wegner’s law firm TILP represents investors in the capital investor model case in Braunschweig who are demanding damages from Volkswagen because they suffered price losses after the diesel scandal was exposed.

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Further information

The billion-dollar model case started on Tuesday before the Braunschweig Higher Regional Court. Thousands of investors sued. (01/16/2024) more

Only the car manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that their vehicle meets the respective requirements. A Porsche buyer sued Audi. (07/10/2023) more

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Hello Lower Saxony | 02/15/2024 | 9:00 a.m

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