Wanted in the US

The Dieselgate Insider

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The testimonies by detained VW Group employees will shed more light on who knew of the emissions manipulation scandal and whether the carmaker could have warned investors earlier.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • VW’s manipulated diesel engines, including those of its brands Audi, Skoda and Seat, turned off or lowered emissions cleaning while driving, meaning the cars spewed out far more toxic nitrogen oxide gases than US laws allow.
    • Prosecutor’s offices in the cities of Braunschweig, Stuttgart and Munich are investigating VW, Audi and Porsche and some current or former board members for possible diesel fraud or stock-market violations.
    • A Detroit court sentenced German engineer James Liang to 40 months in jail and a $200,000 penalty for his role in manipulating diesel cars, while another German manager, Oliver Schmidt, is in pre-trial detention in the US.
  • Audio

    Audio

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audi dieselgate photo illustration
Polishing a reputation. Source: AP [M]

Bit by bit, German prosecutors are digging deeper into the diesel emissions scandal that has turned the country’s car industry up-side down. A former engineer at Audi, the luxury carmaker owned by Volkswagen, has revealed new details of the fraud committed by VW and its subsidiaries.

Giovanni Pamio, a manager three levels below the board, was arrested in Germany last month for his involvement in the diesel scam that affected 11 million cars globally, including VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles. His questioning to date has shed more light on who knew of the diesel fraud, which was publicly revealed in 2015 but dates back as far as 2006, and has cost VW €21.6 billion ($26 billion) in penalties and engine refits so far.

Mr. Pamio, in pre-trial arrest in Munich and wanted by the US Department of Justice, led a team of engineers who designed control systems to meet emissions standards for diesel cars in the US from 2006 to November 2015. According to Mr. Pamio’s questioning, of which Handelsblatt obtained information, one engineer warned several high-level managers of problems with diesel engines at the end of 2006. Mr. Pamio himself briefed a number of Audi executives on Oct. 16, 2007 that the so-called “Clean Diesel” VW Touareg, an SUV car, did not satisfy US environmental regulations, spewing more toxic nitrogen oxide gases than allowed.

The Italian engineer, the first VW Group employee held in a German prison, also told Munich prosecutors that former Audi board members including Ulrich Hackenberg knew that VW’s cars sold in the US violated regulations. Mr. Hackenberg’s lawyer did not reply when requested for a reaction. Mr. Hackenberg has not been charged with a crime.

Mr. Pamio’s statements indirectly affect Audi CEO Rupert Stadler and former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn — two leading executives who have both denied they had any knowledge of the cheating until the late summer of 2015 — because Mr. Hackenberg was among his closest associates.

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