Martin Winterkorn, the long running chief executive officer of VW AG, quit his position last week after the diesel cheating scandal broke out, but in reality he is still with the company.
The former Volkswagen Ag boss, who declared he was ready to give the world’s largest automaker by sales a “fresh start” to handle the scandal of the illegal software that duped US emissions, is actually the holder of no less than four crucial positions within the group. The 68-year-old has remained the chief executive officer of Porsche SE, the family-owned holding company that has a majority stake in VW AG, he is chairman of luxury brand Audi as well as of trucking unit Scania and the newly established Truck & Bus holding. According to investors and analysts, as he remains in the background but very close to the center of power, Winterkorn jeopardizes the company’s ability to navigate through its biggest business crisis in its 78-year history.
According to a person that has knowledge of the company’s proceedings and talked to Reuters under condition of anonymity, Winterkorn has not yet vacated the positions because probes are still ongoing and a fast retreat could be seen as a guilt admission. “It’s a real surprise that Winterkorn is still there,” comments Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, head of the Center of Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen. So far, German prosecutors are investigating fraud allegations from a number of unidentified individuals, but Winterkorn has been withdrawn from formal scrutiny as the authorities declared they had no evidence against the former top executive.