VW to seek damages from former executives for diesel scandal

BERLIN (AP) — Volkswagen is seeking damages from two former top executives for their role in the diesel emissions scandal that cost the German automaker billions of euros and a hefty dent in its reputation.

VW said after a board meeting on Friday that it wants damages from ex-chief executive Martin Winterkorn and former head of its Audi brand Rupert Stadler “on account of breaches of the duty of care under stock corporation law”.

In its statement, the company didn’t specify the amount of damages it would seek.

VW said a law firm the supervisory board tasked with investigating liability issues reviewed millions of documents, conducted hundreds of interviews and “concluded that negligent breaches of duty had occurred” by the two executives.

“The investigation that has now been completed was by far the most comprehensive and complex investigation carried out in a company in German economic history,” Volkswagen said.

The probe found that Winterkorn allegedly “breached his duties of care (…) by failing, in the period from July 27, 2015 on to comprehensively and promptly clarify the circumstances behind the use of unlawful software functions” in 2.0 TDI diesel engines sold in the North American market between 2009 and 2015.

“Professor Winterkorn also failed to ensure that the questions asked by the United States (US) authorities in this context were answered truthfully, completely and without delay,” it said.

German news agency dpa quoted Winterkorn as saying he had done “everything necessary and not refrained from anything that would have led to avoiding or limiting the damage suffered”.

The company alleged that Stadler too breached his duties of care with regard to diesel engines developed by Audi that were installed in several of the company’s European vehicles.

A Volkswagen ID3 (l) and ID4 stand inside a delivery tower in Wolfsburg, Germany. PHOTO: AP