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.