Diesel Dragnet Snares Volkswagen Brand Chief Herbert Diess

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

A day after German prosecutors announced an investigation into former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, the company’s brand chief was named as the second executive placed under the microscope in their probe of the diesel emissions scandal.

Herbert Diess, the man lured away from BMW last year to oversee the Volkswagen passenger car brand, now gets to enjoy his own investigation, according to Reuters.

Prosecutors in Braunschweig, Germany turned up the heat on the two men after financial watchdog group Bafin filed a complaint against VW’s entire pre-scandal board of management. Diess had the great luck of being named chairman on July 1, 2015 — two-and-a-half months before the scandal became public.

A source told Reuters that Bafin saw the board as having a collective responsibility, adding that other executives could become part of the probe.

Investigators want to know what the board members knew about the defeat device and when. Winterkorn, who resigned last September, maintained that he was unaware of the scope of the scandal until shortly before the Environmental Protection Agency leveled charges. However, evidence shows he was sent a memo a year earlier detailing the looming issue, and was present at a board meeting where the issue was briefly discussed.

With Winterkorn and Diess under investigation, VW’s supervisory board might have to ditch its earlier recommendation that shareholders approve the management board’s 2015 actions at this year’s annual meeting. The vote to ratify management’s actions came in early May, when top executives weren’t fingered for wrongdoing in the ongoing investigation.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • So many automotive scandals. Someone should make an automotive scandals channel.

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Jun 21, 2016

    Are they going to work him over with a piece of rubber hose? High pressure fuel line hose? "Come on, we know you did it."

  • NeilM NeilM on Jun 21, 2016

    "Herbert Diess, the man lured away from BMW last year to oversee the Volkswagen passenger car brand, now gets to enjoy his own investigation" A bit hard to see how much responsibility the recently arrived Diess could possibly bear for a scandal whose roots we now know go back years.

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    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jun 21, 2016

      @05lgt It usually takes awhile for a top exec to get up to speed on corporate culture. Until then he's usually highly dependent on pre-existing staff telling him, "Sign here. Routine stuff." He probably wasn't there long enough to know what was going on, but long enough for insiders to use as a fall guy, if needed.