According to three sources that talked to Reuters, Germany’s Volkswagen AG, the largest automaker in Europe, used several versions of its “defeat device” software to cheat on diesel emissions tests.
If the report pans out, the German carmaker may have resorted to a more complex deception scheme during the seven years it admitted using the systems designed to cheat. According to the people that have knowledge of the matter, the carmaker modified the illegal software to work with four engine types – the sources including a VW executive that has knowledge of the matter and a US official briefed on the investigation into the company. “We are working intensely to investigate who knew what and when, but it’s far too early to tell,” responded a spokesperson for the carmaker in relation to inquiries about how many persons had knowledge of the plot to use the illegal software. Industry experts and analysts say that if the company used more than one version of the software that could deliver a higher probability that a wider array of employees would be involved. For example, the software technicians would have needed regular financing and to gain an insight into engine programming.
How many people were involved is essential for investors because that tally could set the pace for the heft of potential regulatory penalties and how much management knew about the ploy or leading to further executive shakeups. “The more higher-ups that are involved, the more the company is considered blameworthy and deserving of more serious punishment,” comments Brandon Garrett, a corporate crime expert at the University of Virginia School of Law.