Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn testified that he had no advance warning of the company’s diesel emissions cheating despite some concerns he intentionally misled VW investors before the scandal broke wide open in September 2015.
Winterkorn has been under a cloud of suspicion in recent months as prosecutors in both Germany and the U.S. have dug ever deeper into VW’s rigging of diesel emissions tests. As part of a $4.3 billion settlement between the company and the U.S. Justice Department announced last week, six VW employees were indicted for their alleged role in coming up with the so-called “defeat devices” used in the automaker’s 2.0- and 3.0-liter engines. Now, the focus turns to whether top management tried to conceal what they knew.
“As CEO I took political responsibility,” the 69-year-old Winterkorn said during a German parliamentary inquiry on Thursday, adding that, “this step was the most difficult of my life.”