This story far from over for those who committed this huge environmental fraud. We can expect various jurisdictions around the world to come out with probes and investigations over the coming weeks and months. A big one landed today: German prosecutors launched a criminal investigation of former Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn, as well as some other executives. The suspected charge is fraud related to the emission rigging scandal that is engulfing VW.
Mr. Winterkorn said that he took responsibility for the scandal when he stepped down (with a huge golden parachute), but he was quick to add that he was "not aware" that he did anything wrong:
“As CEO I accept responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines and have therefore requested the Supervisory Board to agree on terminating my function as CEO of the Volkswagen Group,” Mr. Winterkorn said in a written statement on Sept. 23. “I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.”
Maybe we'll see a sleepwalking defense?
Audi will be tarnished tooSo far most of the attention has centered on the Volkswagen brand, but the VW Group owns many other brands, including the luxury carmaker Audi. The company has confirmed today that 2.1 million out of the 11 million total cars that are known to include the emission-test avoiding software were from Audi. That's a significant number, especially since fewer Audis are sold than VWs.
The vast majority of the affected Audi vehicles, or just over two million cars, were sold in Europe, while about 13,000 were sold in the U.S. and Canada, Mr. De Graeve said. None of the affected vehicles were sold in China or Japan, he added. Audi said the affected models include the A1, A3, A4, A5, A6, TT, Q3 and Q5. (source)
Skoda, a brand owned by VW and operating in Czechoslovakia, also confirmed that about 1.2 million of its cars are also affected.
This furthers confirms that while the scandal broke out in the U.S., the heart of it is in Europe, where diesel are much more popular and air quality is typically worse.