By on June 9, 2016

Volkswagen Chattanooga Tower

As the Environmental Protection Agency readied charges against Volkswagen, the automaker’s employees were told to remove evidence related to the diesel emissions scandal, German media reports claim.

The New York Times says several Volkswagen employees told investigators that just before the scandal broke, someone in a “supervisory position” told them indirectly to remove evidence of the emissions-cheating defeat devices installed in millions of diesel vehicles.

The manager used vague language when advising the employees on what to do, but “everyone understood” what the message meant, according to a spokesperson for the state attorney in Braunschweig, Germany.

Because of the ongoing investigation, the employee and his or her position within the company can’t be named. The order to erase evidence came in August 2015, a month before the EPA accused Volkswagen of emissions cheating.

The Times mentioned an anonymous source close to the automaker, who claimed “the suspect was a member of Volkswagen’s legal staff and has been suspended from his job.”

In court, the company said top brass were unaware of the looming charges, even though a memo was sent to former CEO Martin Winterkorn about concerns expressed by U.S. regulators about vehicle emissions irregularities. A PowerPoint presentation dating to 2006 was also found during the investigation.

In the wake of the scandal, Volkswagen hired law firm Jones Day to look into the issue. In March, the company’s supervisory board cleared management of any breaches of duty in relation to the scandal. That decision was apparently based on known evidence collected by the investigators.

A full report from Jones Day detailing the actions of the company isn’t expected until later this year.

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11 Comments on “Volkswagen Employees Say Manager Told Them to Destroy ‘Defeat Device’ Evidence...”

  • avatar

    Legal staffer using a vague language. Who knew?

  • avatar

    Das *shocking*. Now if they could’ve only destroyed 8+ million cars before anyone noticed.

  • avatar

    Im a lawyer and Im trying to think how I would word such an order.

    “Hey Helmut….can you come over here for a minute? Hey you know those awesome diesel engines we have, well, we have word that there is some corporate espionage going on by our competitors. Now we moved everything we deem important to a site we feel is safe but we need to collect and remove every trace, every crumb of information we have regarding these engines, particularly the technology we use to meet emissions guidelines. This is a huge deal, we are all relying on you.”

    Helmut: I need a written request in order to process this deletion.

    Me: The spies would find it, we are trying to root them out. We cant let them know we are on to them. We need your help on this Helmut. You want to come up to the executive suite with me and explain the problem to management?

    Or maybe something like: “these aren’t the droids we are looking for”

  • avatar

    I’m pretty sure that at this point, any internal investigation VW turns over to authorities will be quickly flipped through for especially obvious/hilarious lies and then tossed in the trash can.

    I mean, if you were a government investigator, I expect that you no longer believe a single thing any VW employee tells you unless they’ve done so under a grant of immunity.

    I imagine at this point, the “playbook” for getting information from VW includes: “If they claim they didn’t know something, proceed with the assumption they are lying. If they admit to any wrongdoing at all, assume that the truth is far worse.”

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    “I know nothing!”
    “We were just following orders!”

  • avatar

    Rogue lawyer?

  • avatar

    If only Adolf hadn’t green lighted that damned people’s car so looong ago …

  • avatar

    I don’t think the Germermans much care about this anymore. Der Spiegel’s homepage right now ( doesn’t have a peep about VW and that’s usually a good place to see what’s rilin’ the Heinies at any particular time.

    They do, though, have an awesome report about Columbian doctors extracting an intact grenade round from the head of a soldier.

    Oh, and they cover the Ottawa sinkhole.

  • avatar

    “Wir haben es nicht gewusst”… since someone higher up the chain of command told us so. Sounds familiar?

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