By on August 22, 2018

VW logo, Image: Volkswagen

Volkswagen Group intends to fire a group of employees implicated in the diesel emissions fraud scandal. German prosecutors in Brunswick have identified an inner circle of 39 “suspicious engineers” it believes contributed directly to the emissions cheating. It’s expected that VW will carry out these terminations as quickly as possible, with additional waves of firings to follow.

According to Handelsblatt, Volkswagen made the decision to cleanse its ranks after being granted access to the prosecution’s investigation files in July. The automaker followed up with a series of employee “interviews” and a month-long review process. VW has already announced the dismissal of six high-ranking employees, with former development head Heinz-Jakob Neußer (Neusser) being the most noteworthy. 

Neußer, already wanted by the U.S. Justice Department for corporate fraud, was suspended from work in Germany in 2015.

In an interview with Handelsblatt, VW CEO Herbert Diess said the dismissals would only affect a handful of people for the time being. He also confirmed that the terminations are going through now that the automaker has been able to examine the prosecutors’ investigative documents.

Those files also alleged that Diess was informed of the existence of cheating software two months before U.S. regulators finally blew the whistle. The United States previously agreed to give him safe passage earlier this year, possibly hoping that he would testify against former Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn. No charges have been filed against Diess, but he is now under increased scrutiny in Germany.

VW continues to maintain that the management board did not violate its disclosure duties or act illegally when it decided not to inform investors about the emissions issue. The company’s excuse is that upper management failed to grasp the seriousness of the situation and had no way of knowing the full scope of potential fines and legal ramifications.

(Note: The previous headline, which contained the prefix “Line ’em Up,” was changed to appease a group of tone-policing auto journalists who congregated on Twitter to express their outrage, despite the fact that no readers saw a problem with it. So, to defuse this growing mob of professionals who believe we were making a Holocaust joke because the story involves Germans (we weren’t, and wouldn’t), the headline underwent surgery. We apologise for causing any offense, real or forced. – Associate Ed.)

[Image: Volkswagen]

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10 Comments on “Volkswagen Preparing for Mass Firings...”


  • avatar
    jkross22

    “The company’s excuse is that upper management failed to grasp the seriousness of the situation and had no way of knowing the full scope of potential fines and legal ramifications.”

    So their argument is that people who should have known about the problem didn’t know and that they didn’t understand the fines for the offenses they didn’t know VW was guilty of and didn’t know the legal ramifications of the offenses they are now saying they were not aware of.

    It’s the “I’m not corrupt, I’m just incompetent” defense.

    • 0 avatar
      namesakeone

      To me, it sounds more like they knew it was illegal, but didn’t know how badly they could be punished for it.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I could see that. I’d wager it was something like “eh, a $37,500 fine is no big deal.” and they didn’t realize that it was $37,000 per vehicle *per day each vehicle was operated.*

        that’s why the number got so big.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    In heavy German accents:

    VW Fuhrer: Your actions have embarrassed the company and your Fuhrer.
    VW Engineer: I was only following orders my Fuhrer.
    VW Fuhrer: Are you saying your Fuhrer made a mistake?
    VW Engineer: No, No my Fuhrer.
    VW Fuhrer: Very well, I will therefore give you a choice – the Russian front or firing squad.

  • avatar
    brn

    VW’s biggest mistake was that when the scandal first hit the press, they repeatedly tried the “it was just a rouge engineer defense”. Everyone knew that they knew it was a big lie. When caught in a lie, they tried other lies. Got busted on those too.

    They might be coming clean now, but it’s too late. Can’t trust a thing they say.

  • avatar

    I was not at home to receive the certified mail which informed me of the illegal acts. Thus, I was not aware of them.

    Also at a board meeting, I was in the corner of the room and could not hear, so I was not aware then either.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    ‘The company’s excuse is that upper management failed to grasp the seriousness of the situation and had no way of knowing the full scope of potential fines and legal ramifications.’

    “You’re excuses are your own, pal!” – Richard Roma, Glengarry Glen Ross.

  • avatar
    tsarcasm

    And Piech is untouchable, he knew everything!

  • avatar
    vehic1

    And yet, the VW-haters have ZERO problem – when it’s THEIR favorite brand dodging recalls, exaggerating pollution compliance/fuel economy/safety, etc.; they feel safe to throw stones from their glass houses.

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      >And yet, the VW-haters have ZERO problem – when it’s THEIR favorite brand dodging recalls, exaggerating pollution compliance/fuel economy/safety, etc.; they feel safe to throw stones from their glass houses.

      Spot on.

      Welcome to the easily-offended era of snowflakism – where the morally sanctimonious come out of the woodwork.

      I don’t subscribe to the fake outrage victim mentality. Coming from a science and engineering background, I prefer to solve problems instead of whine about them.


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