Volkswagen managers were notified nearly two years back that the US regulators might carry out an investigation on the car engine software, according to Reuters.
A high-ranking employee warned senior Volkswagen managers in May 2014 that US regulators might examine car engine software as part of an investigation into pollution levels, two sources familiar with the matter said on Sunday. The notification was sent in the form of a letter, which came 16 months before Europe’s biggest carmaker admitted that it fitted its cars with a cheating software to pass the emissions tests, the sources revealed. This action is again raising questions about how much the company’s top managers knew about the manipulation. Volkswagen is facing a lawsuit from the US Justice Department, in which 46 billion dollars are claimed for alleged violations of the environmental law. Furthermore, regulators and prosecutors are looking to establish what role, if any, has been played by senior managers, including former Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn.
If everyone was expecting from VW to point fingers at big names, the company’s internal investigation over the scandal found that the software-influenced NOx emissions “behavior” was due to the interaction of three factors: the misconduct and shortcomings of individual employees, weaknesses in some processes and a mindset in some areas of the company that tolerated breaches of rules. Therefore, the automaker publically claims that there was no indication that board members were involved.
German newspaper Bild am Sonntag was first to report the existence of an internal letter warning senior managers about the investigation. Citing documents from VW’s own investigation of the scandal, Bild am Sonntag said that an employee known internally as “Winterkorn’s fireman” notified superiors about the probe. Two people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday that they had knowledge of the Volkswagen letter but that it was not certain if Winterkorn, who resigned shortly after the scandal surfaced, ever saw the letter in question.