By on October 1, 2015

DB2007PA00104

German prosecutors on Thursday said they focused too quickly on former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn and removed a statement from earlier this week that they were investigating the former executive for the scandal that has engulfed the German carmaker.

In a statement by the Lower Saxony prosecutor’s office obtained by Automotive News Europe on Thursday, the office said there must be “concrete facts” before officially investigating Winterkorn. So far, no specific individuals have been named in the office’s investigation.

The stakes are high for whomever may be responsible for the 11 million cars that illegally cheated emissions tests. Volkswagen supervisory board member Olaf Lies told The Local in Germany that “those people who allowed this to happen, or who made the decision to install this software — they acted criminally. They must take personal responsibility.”

Several outlets reported that German authorities are compelled to investigate criminal complaints that are made by anyone. In the days following the scandal that ultimately cost Winterkorn his job, dozens of criminal complaints came in against Winterkorn, including at least one from within Volkswagen.

Volkswagen has fired several high-ranking technical executives so far, and the company may announce more in the coming days. One analyst told a German business newspaper that its presumed next chairman may not be immune to the scandal.

“(Hans Dieter) Poetsch’s possible nomination as new supervisory board chief is looking increasingly questionable,” German fund manager Hans-Christian Hirt told Handelsblatt.

When Winterkorn resigned, he said he took responsibility for the illegal “defeat devices”, but said he did not know they were developed or included in Volkswagen’s cars.

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7 Comments on “German Prosecutors Backtrack on Winterkorn Focus for Investigation...”


  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    I’m thinking of buying a 1 to 2 year old, low mileage, VW Jetta TDI or Jetta Sportwagen TDI for $11,000 to $13,000.

    Must be mint with extended factory warranty and all service records.

    email me at [email protected]

  • avatar
    Joss

    Winterkorngate burn those tapes eh-hum hard copies. Will there be gaps? Will executive privilege be revoked? Or will a few of his backsides end up in prison?

  • avatar
    jonnyanalog

    Of course they are going to back down. The State of Lower Saxony is a major shareholder (which IIRC is illegal to begin with) of VW.

  • avatar
    DeeDub

    “the office said there must be “concrete facts” before officially investigating Winterkorn.”

    Are they saying that they won’t investigate whether Winterkorn was involved until someone else produces evidence that Winterkorn was involved?

    • 0 avatar
      redliner

      Considering that VW and one of their major suppliers, Bosch are some of the largest employers in Germany, I’m sure the powers that be are eager to issue a few fines and maybe a few months of “house arrest” for the fall-guys and have all of this unpleasantness go away.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I LOL’d at “Olaf Lies”. I know that’s a German guy’s name, but it’s too perfect for this. I bet Olaf knows some things.

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