Dieselgate Investigation

FBI Sets Sights on VW Board

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If the FBI goes after VW directors, the company will find it harder to recover from the emissions scandal, even though it has reached a provisional settlement with the U.S. authorities over the case.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • A criminal complaint filed by FBI against arrested VW manager Oliver Schmidt alleges that top VW executives knew in July 2015 about the scandal – two months before it became public.
    • Handelsblatt has learned that the FBI is looking for evidence against former VW management board members alongside ex-boss Martin Winterkorn.
    • Mr. Schmidt’s arrest and the new allegations coincide with VW’s attempt to make a fresh start at the Detroit Motor Show.
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File photo of VW Golf VII emblems at a production line at the plant of German carmaker Volkswagen in Wolfsburg
The FBI has VW board members in its sights. Source: Reuters

The FBI has alleged that former top managers at VW in Germany knew as early as July 2015 about the use of fraudulent software in diesel cars to cheat emissions tests and approved a cover-up two months before the scandal was exposed.

The FBI makes its claims based on testimony from three VW employees and two staff members of U.S. environmental authorities, found in a criminal complaint filed against VW executive Oliver Schmidt on Monday.

Mr. Schmidt was arrested at the weekend during a vacation in Florida on suspicion of deceiving U.S. authorities over the emissions scandal.

Handelsblatt has learned that the FBI is looking for evidence against former VW management board members alongside ex-boss Martin Winterkorn, who quit in September just a few days after Dieselgate was exposed.

Sources close to the people questioned by the FBI said the investigators were primarily interested in exactly when the board was informed about what.

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