The Volkswagen emissions scandal has lead to law firm Jones Day being hired to carry out an internal probe into identifying who ordered engineers to develop and install software designed to cheat U.S. diesel-emissions tests but to also do something more intriguing – like who actually knew this was going on at VW?
The former chief executive Martin Winterkorn had been told that regulators were told the company was using the ‘defeat device’ two weeks before the scandal broke publicly.
Fortune report that the letter sent by an unnamed manager directly to then-CEO Winterkorn on Sept. 4 said: “In the conversation on 03.09.2015 with the regulator CARB (California Air Resources Board), the defeat device was admitted.”
Volkswagen’s U.S. CEO Michael Horn told a U.S. House of Representatives hearing in October the company had told regulators on Sept. 3 it was using defeat devices.
A letter pointing to the then-CEO could lend weight to the cases of shareholders planning to sue Volkswagen for compensation for the plunge in its share price, saying VW should have told the public as soon as it became aware.
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The law firm acting for Winterkorn, who resigned on Sept. 23, was not immediately reachable for comment.
A Volkswagen spokesman said the company declined to comment on an ongoing investigation.
German financial watchdog Bafin is investigating whether Volkswagen breached disclosure rules when it admitted to falsifying U.S. emissions tests in September. It said last month the probe would probably take several more months.
The scandal is likely to cost VW tens of billions in damages and the lawyers are not just lining up, but are suing now. The emissions scandal also The wiped 17%, or more than 13 billion euros ($14.2 billion), off Volkswagen’s market value on the next trading day.