By on September 26, 2016

Martin Winterkorn, Image: Volkswagen AG [CC BY 3.0]/Wikimedia Commons

After German media reported his suspension last week, Audi announced today technical development boss Stefan Knirsch is stepping down and leaving the automaker.

The executive, who sat on Audi’s management board, found himself caught up in the investigation surrounding Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. Meanwhile, a German newspaper claims that newly discovered documents show ex-Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn mislead U.S. authorities before the scandal broke.

Last week, Bild am Sonntag reported that investigators from the U.S. law firm Jones Day, tasked with probing the automaker’s emissions cheating, discovered evidence that Knirsch knew about the rigged diesel engines and provided a false affidavit. Knirsch took on the role of tech boss on January 1 of this year. His predecessor, Ulrich Hackenberg, stepped down last December as the scandal grew.

In a one-sentence statement issued by Audi, the automaker says Knirsch “is stepping down from his position with immediate effect and is leaving the company in agreement with the Supervisory Board.”

No replacement has been announced.

While Volkswagen AG’s former CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down following the scandal, his name is now being dragged back into the spotlight.

According to Bloomberg, Bild has found documents approved by Winterkorn that paint an incomplete picture of the company’s deception for U.S. investigators. The signed documents, reportedly dated July 28 of last year, contain a plan to release only some of the information requested of the company. At a August 5, 2016 meeting with U.S. regulators, VW engineers admitted the engines weren’t compliant, and said they were working to fix them.

German prosecutors launched an investigation into Winterkorn last June. They aim to find out if the top executive waited too long to reveal the automaker was under investigation. A number of investor lawsuits allege the company and its management kept a lid on information that would have prevented financial losses to shareholders.

German media reported last month that former chairman Ferdinand Piëch resigned after failing to get answers from Winterkorn about the rigged engines. Piëch left the company in April 2015 after questioning Winterkorn a month earlier. Evidence has shown Winterkorn may have had knowledge of the devices as early as May of 2014.

[Image: Volkswagen AG/Wikimedia Commons]

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9 Comments on “Audi Tech Boss Leaves Company as Heat Rises on Ex-VW CEO Winterkorn...”

  • avatar

    Ruh-roh… We still haven’t heard where Michael Horn went. Hope he’s enjoying his retirement or whatever it’s called when you resign while a scandal is ongoing.

    Meanwhile, Marty W might have some problems to deal with.

  • avatar

    I imagine pretty much no work is getting done over at VW R&D these days. The massive reshuffling going on up and down the org chart causes COMPLETE chaos in middle-management ranks as political jockeying takes place, and favored employees of new execs are promoted (and proteges of the old execs… aren’t.) priorities shift, projects are pushed forward or set aside, etc.

    (Not to mention anybody with any job even remotely related to TDI emissions is probably spending the entire workday researching defense lawyers, or in meetings with VW legal.)

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Their graphic artists are pretty busy showing us what VW *might* produce, however.

    • 0 avatar

      All the more reason why they should want to get everything aired, close this book and move on. Protracted legal battles such as this lead to complete paralysis.

      • 0 avatar

        Indeed, but I get the impression that knowledge of the emissions cheating has permeated the organization much like a cancer that has metastasized. It’s in all of the major organs, and if the company is going to get better then they will have to cut out quite a lot of it. The cheating has gone on for so long that the various executives, managers, and engineers involved have moved between different departments and divisions and tainted them all with knowledge of the cheating. It’s going to take VW years to recover, because it’s going to take years for the investigations, lawsuits, and criminal prosecutions to be completed. And every time there’s another headline it all comes rushing back.

      • 0 avatar

        Some of us are hoping quite fervently for paralysis, bankruptcy, and dismantling of this farce of a company. Probably won’t happen even though they’ve earned it in spades…

  • avatar

    Knirsch knew about the rigged diesel engines and provided a false affidavit”

    One has to wonder how they managed to get a senior executive to sign an affidavit. When that is shown to be false there are not many options left.

  • avatar

    Of course most, if not all, of the top bosses were aware of and in on this scam. I hope VW claws back every bonus they “earned” since the cheating started. We now know that those earnings were built on a big lie.

  • avatar

    Let’s see… A company making money at the expense of public health and the living environment, deliberately lying about it towards authorities, and a “Ich habe es nicht gewusst” CEO that was paid around 65 million euro when he left the company. Authorities, shareholders, the public and of course VW owners in the U.S. have all reason to demand extradition of this super villain. At least start procedures for some sort of claw back arrangement, in which all bonuses have to be paid back over the years in which the fraudulent software was used.

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