VW Board May Sue Former Chairman Ferdinand Piech Over Accusations Relating To Diesel Emissions Testing Fraud Scandal

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The supervisory board of Volkswagen Group is threatening to file a lawsuit against former chairman Ferdinand Piech for his recent comments that the firm’s top execs were aware of the use of defeat devices for the defrauding of regulatory bodies during vehicle emissions testing — well before they were discovered by outsiders.

The VW supervisory board denies that Piech’s comments have any truth to them, and issued a public statement on the matter that reads: “The board of management will carefully weigh the possibility of measures and claims against Mr Piech.”

Notably, the public statement referenced an “independent investigation” performed last year by the US law firm Jones Day, which reportedly determined that Piech’s accusations were “implausible” (personally, that sounds like an intentionally ambiguous finding to me).

Bloomberg provides more:

“There’s a lot at stake for VW and former Chairman Piech, who orchestrated the manufacturer’s rise from a troubled German industrial behemoth into a global automotive powerhouse that outsold industry leader Toyota Motor Corp. last year. VW reached settlement agreements with US authorities in recent months worth more than $20 billion to make up for cheating on emissions tests. But evidence that top management was aware of the illicit conduct would provide fresh ammunition for legal claims from disgruntled investors across the globe, potentially adding billions of dollars in costs.

“Germany’s Bild newspaper reported earlier that Piech told German prosecutors in Braunschweig that after learning about possible cheating on VW’s diesel engines in February 2015, he informed then CEO Martin Winterkorn and subsequently supervisory board members, including Stephan Weil, prime minister of the German state of Lower Saxony, works council chief Bernd Osterloh, former IG Metall union head Berthold Huber and Wolfgang Porsche. Piech stepped down as chairman in April 2015 after losing a power struggle with Winterkorn.”

Notably, Weil has issued a public statement denying that Piech informed him of possible diesel emissions testing fraud, and that he first learned of the subject on September 19, 2015. His statement read: “Any other description is plain wrong.”

Osterloh and Huber have both commented as well, saying that the allegations are “untrue,” as well as stating: “We expect that the management board examines in due course if it needs to take actions against Piech.”

A reminder here: Huber, Osterloh, and Piech’s cousin Wolfgang Porsche all sided with Winterkorn during the 2015 power struggle that left Piech ousted as chairman.

Bloomberg provides a bit more: “Piech’s own role remains unclear. According to the US Department of Justice — and signed off by VW — the cheating roots back to at least May 2006. Piech ousted Winterkorn’s predecessor as VW CEO, Bernd Pischetsrieder, that year. The departure came several months after VW shot down talks over a far-reaching alliance with Daimler AG which would have given VW access to its German peer’s diesel technology, people familiar with the matter said last month.”

What a convoluted mess of accusations and/or lies. Oh, and dead bodies. Lots and lots of dead bodies, accumulated and accumulating in the morgues and cemeteries of the countries where Volkswagen’s fraudulently approved diesel vehicles have been sold.

Since I’ll likely get some pushback on that last statement, I want to extra clear here: that’s the base truth of the Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal — the extra-legal levels of NOx and other pollutants released by the company’s diesel cars over the last decade have led directly to the premature deaths of a great many people.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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