Volkswagen wraps up multi-year investigation into Dieselgate

The Volkswagen group has completed a multi-year internal investigation into Dieselgate and says it will seek compensation from former CEO Martin Winterkorn and former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler for some of the massive financial damage resulting from the emission. cheating scandal.

The law firm Volkswagen hired to conduct the investigation included more than 65 petabytes of data, including approximately 480 million documents. About 1.6 million of those files were “identified as relevant, screened and assessed,” the German automaker says. The law firm also conducted 1,550 interviews and reviewed prosecutors’ files and legal proceedings around the world that resulted from the company’s actions. The internal probe was “by far the most comprehensive and complex investigation carried out in a company in German economic history,” writes Volkswagen.

Winterkorn resigned in September 2015, almost immediately after news of the scandal became known. He was later arrested in Germany and charged with knowing not only that the company’s diesel cars had software that fooled regulators, but also that he spent a year on the discovery of the cheat by the Environmental Protection Agency. Winterkorn has also been charged in the US, but is unlikely to ever be extradited. He remains in Germany.

Stadler was arrested by German authorities in 2018, leading Audi to reverse the unveiling of its first all-electric car, the E-Tron. Stadler was later forced out of his role by Volkswagen.

Volkswagen said Friday it is also seeking damages from four other former board members: Ulrich Hackenberg and Stefan Knirsch (Audi), Wolfgang Hatz (Porsche) and Heinz-Jakob Neusser (Volkswagen) – the latter of whom has been criminally charged by the ministry. of justice.

The end of the investigation is something Volkswagen will no doubt point to when Dieselgate comes up. For the past five years since the scandal, the company has sought to distance itself from its deceptive and harmful actions, trying to pin it on individual actors in many ways. (The former CEO of its US division once testified to Congress in 2015 that it was the work of “a few software engineers who [did it] for any reason. “He quit his job five months later.)

Volkswagen is now at least the largest legacy automaker making the most coordinated push in electric vehicles, and it recently increased its investment in the space to $ 86 billion.