Ex-Volkswagen CEO Reappears, Claims He Didn't Know Nuthin'

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ex volkswagen ceo reappears claims he didn t know nuthin

As far as anyone knows, former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn spent the last 16 months on a desert island.

After resigning his post in the turbulent days after the diesel emissions scandal went public, Winterkorn stayed out of the spotlight, shying from any public appearances. That is, until now. As indictments land in executives’ laps and top brass grow Bloomberg reports.

“It’s incomprehensible why I wasn’t informed early and clearly,” Winterkorn said. “I would have prevented any type of deception or misleading of authorities.”

German prosecutors opened an investigation into his actions last June, and speculation regarding his level of knowledge of the devices continues to fly. The affidavit filed after this month’s indictments points to broad knowledge of the devices among company executives. Besides the FBI’s court filing, there’s plenty of other food for thought.

Winterkorn is alleged to have received a memo detailing early investigations into the diesel affair over a year before the scandal went public. The former CEO claims he didn’t remember reading it. Months before the Environmental Protection Agency leveled its accusations, Winterkorn apparently sat in on a meeting where the issue was discussed. He also reportedly Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY 3.0)]

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  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Jan 20, 2017

    Consider the following scenario, a mix of fact and conjecture: Winterkorn (and Piëch): - detail obsessed micromanagers; - Piëch being a engine engineering engineer by training, having picked out the FI system for these engines, having apparently decided to cancel the 1,000€/car (when VW's only cleared 800€/car profit) AD Blue licensing agreement with Daimler, would seem to be up to his elbows in engine architecture decisions; - Wiko as Piëch's mini-me (Schabern! Schabbern would have wanted to be in on every detail; - maybe not as "open door" as they claim (it's tough to enter a c-suite in most companies, and mail/email go through many assistant filters - crisis issues tend to penetrate such filters though); - but having countless unofficial (as well as official) trusted source direct access channels feeding them info outside of the normal bureaucracy; - to help sort/manage such info, they had a professional fireman (think Mr Wolf from Pulp Fiction but w/o the mustache, tux or NSX) to expose, manage and clean up crises. Nobody smart ignores the fireman; - the fireman doesn't waste time cleaning up things that are immaterial or handable by the line organization. He handles expensive, embarrassing, issues that risk the company or managements neck's; - if Wiko gets a call, letter, email from the fireman, it will captivate his attention, a good administrative assistant will put fireman communiques on the top of weekend reading as missing these risks bad things; - if Wiko learns of expensive (or stop-ship level) problems it will focus his mind and elicit questions of how much?, what?, who?, why? A recall of 500k cars, is bound to elicit these questions from all not in a coma, when it turns out to be emissions with fines, the red light is blinking and any later claim of not having details (what underling comes w/o details to a detail maniac?) Seems extremely implausible; - when patron/mentor Piëch hears from Wiko, this detail maniac will ask the same questions and the ejection light starts flashing (because even if in on the deal from the beginning, one doesn't want to be hung based on participation in obstruction at the end); - when Piëch and wife abruptly quit board of company their family mostly control (with the quote "I feel a growing distance to Wiko), it is less likely coincidence than proactive exit to support plausible deniability while rest of organization mobilizes under the don't get caught (at least until the 2016 cars are certified for sale). - when Wiko and the VW organization fail to find details or memories pointing upwards, it could be because the players in charge are still handpicked management from the old regime, some of which are on retainer to act as a firewall for the top two layers of control; - the former second layer of control, in his testimony yesterday, besides trying to save his own neck, appears to be playing the part of firewall on retainer.

    • See 2 previous
    • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Jan 20, 2017

      @brettc Under the Yates Memo rules, VW has to turn over all details regarding who knew what when. If the don't and the DOJ gets wise, VW will go another round in the ring with the US Atty and lose more billions. Assuming they played roles in the initiation, conduct or coverup, how much are Wiko and Piëch worth? As the DOJ squeezes from the bottom up and folks sing, how long will folks fired by VW, or even still on the payroll, protect the pinnacle?

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jan 22, 2017

    Aw, maybe he really didn't know. Everyone knows Ferdinand Piech was running everything. Why hasn't HE been questioned? Answer: he knows where the bodies are buried - he probably buried most of 'em. It wasn't just the engineers who were afraid of him.

  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
  • ToolGuy When you are pulled over for speeding, whether you are given a ticket or not should depend on how attractive you are.Source: My sister 😉
  • Kcflyer What Toyota needs is a true full size body on frame suv to compete with the Expedition and Suburban and their badge engineered brethren. The new sequoia and LX are too compromised in capacity by their off road capabilities that most buyers will never use.