Volkswagen announced on Wednesday that it has reached a settlement with former CEO Winterkorn and three other ex-top managers over damages in the diesel scandal. Winterkorn paid a record amount of €11.2 million, ex-Audi boss Rupert Stadler €4.1 million, as announced by the Wolfsburg-based carmaker. Stefan Nirsch and Wolfgang Hutz, the former development heads of Audi and Porsche, had agreed to pay €1 million and €1.5 million, respectively.
Another 270 million euros come from manager liability
Only former Audi board member Ulrich Hackenberg was unwilling to reach a deal with Volkswagen. So the group wants to prepare legal action against him. In addition to payments made by former board members, VW also receives funding from a special liability insurance for managers: the lion’s share of another 270 million euros flows from there.
Public prosecutor accuses Winterkorn of perjury
After the settlement, Winterkorn faces further trouble. According to the Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office, in 2017 the former manager on the Bundestag investigative committee “deliberately made false statements” in the emissions case. This was about the question when the then chairman of the board was informed about the use of software to manipulate exhaust gas prices, as announced by the authority on Wednesday.
Did Winterkorn know in May 2015?
Winterkorn said it was only informed of such shutdown devices in September 2015. According to the indictment, however, he “before May 2015 knew that the engine control software of some VW vehicles was equipped with a software function to manipulate exhaust gas values in test operation”. There is proof of this. The topic was also discussed on a “claims table” – a round with engineers and lawyers from Winterkorn on quality problems – in July 2015, according to investigators. At least this allegation has been confirmed by the VW group itself.
Allegations against VW have been processed since 2015
The diesel or exhaust gas fraud at Volkswagen Group went public in September 2015. At the time, the carmaker admitted that it had installed software in some diesel engines that reduced nitrogen oxide emissions only on test benches, but not in road traffic. Winterkorn and other former or current managers have already been charged or are facing trial in this case. The case now costs VW around 30 billion euros – including through compensation. Against this background, the compensation payments made known today are just a drop in the ocean.