• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Volkswagen scandal
Prosecutors: no probe of ex-VW CEO Winterkorn
'The success car' Photo: DPA

Prosecutors: no probe of ex-VW CEO Winterkorn

AFP · 1 Oct 2015, 11:40

Published: 01 Oct 2015 08:34 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Oct 2015 11:40 GMT+02:00

An official press statement released on Monday by public prosecutors in Brunswick was "formulated incorrectly," a spokesman told AFP.

No specific individuals are targeted so far in the prosecutors' investigation into the massive pollution-cheating scandal.

Complaints had been filed by private individuals against Winterkorn, but only initial suspicions were being probed and there was no formal inquiry as yet, the spokesman explained.

VW steps up hunt for culprits

 
German auto giant Volkswagen shifted up a gear on Wednesday in its plans to recall millions of cars fitted with
pollution-cheating software as it boosted efforts to find the masterminds behind the scam.

Following the departure of chief executive Martin Winterkorn and sales chief Christian Klingler in VW's deepest-ever crisis, more heads looked set to roll after new CEO Matthias Mueller vowed to be "ruthless" in investigating the affair.

The steering committee of the carmaker's supervisory board met on Wednesday to discuss the preliminary findings of an internal probe into a scam that has rocked the automobile sector and wiped €29 billion off VW's market capitalisation.

A dozen managers suspected of helping to develop and install the sophisticated software, known as a defeat device, or who were aware of the fraud have been suspended, the monthly Manager Magazin reported.

Supervisory board member Olaf Lies said "those people who allowed this to happen, or who made the decision to install this software - they acted criminally. They must take personal responsibility".

Regulatory and legal probes are underway in several countries to find out who knew what and when, and German prosecutors have also launched an investigation against 68-year-old Winterkorn.

VW's finance chief Hans-Dieter Poetsch, who has been tipped to take over as supervisory board chief, could also find himself in the firing line, given his close relationship with Winterkorn and his key role on the executive board.

"Poetsch's possible nomination as new supervisory board chief is looking increasingly questionable," the business daily Handelsblatt quoted a fund manager, Hans-Christian Hirt, as saying.

The suspect diesel engines went on sale in 2009, which suggested the pollution-cheating software must have been under discussion within the company as early as 2007 and 2008, the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote.

Millions of cars affected

Winterkorn took the driving seat at VW in 2007. His predecessor Bernd Pischetsrieder and the former head of the Volkswagen brand issued statements via their lawyers late on Tuesday denying they knew anything about the manipulation.

Meanwhile, VW's luxury sports car maker Porsche named 47-year-old Oliver Blume as its new CEO Wednesday, taking over from Mueller who had been in the driving seat for five years until he was appointed head of the group last Friday.

Volkswagen, the world's biggest carmaker by sales, has admitted that up to 11 million diesel cars worldwide are fitted with devices that can switch on pollution controls when they detect the car is undergoing testing.

They then switch off the controls when the car is on the road, allowing it to spew out harmful levels of emissions.

Since the revelations on September 18, the VW share has seen nearly 40 percent of its value go up in smoke. Shares showed some signs of stabilisation on Wednesday, closing up 2.68 percent at 97.75 euros on the Frankfurt stock
exchange.

The German government has given VW until October 7 to explain how it will resolve the scandal.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble blamed the scam on the same greed that had led to the financial crisis.

"If you want to succeed on global markets, competition is brutal. Everyone wants to be the biggest," he told reporters. "It's the lust for fame, for recognition."

Germany's Federal Transport Authority KBA threatened to withdraw domestic road approval for VW models if the carmaker did not come up with the recall plan by next week.

VW has said owners of the affected cars would be notified "in the next weeks and months," adding that "all the brands concerned are going to create Internet pages where clients will be able to follow developments".

Tidal wave of lawsuits

VW said Thursday it plans to recall up to 120,000 diesel cars sold in South Korea, the day after its British arm said it would recall and fix nearly 1.2 million vehicles.

Lawsuits, including class-action litigation, are also being filed in the United States and South Korean VW vehicle owners are also suing the company.

VW has already said it will set aside 6.5 billion euros in provisions in the third quarter, but analysts suggest one to three billion euros more could be needed.

Story continues below…

On top of that, VW also faces onerous regulatory fines, including up to $18 billion in the United States - and the fallout on customer purchases cannot yet be estimated.

Australia's competition watchdog on Thursday said the German auto maker could be fined Aus$1.1 million (US$780,000) for each cheating device, potentially amounting to billions of costs although a fine of such size would be unlikely.

The consumer protection group Deutsche Umwelthilfe said the entire European car industry was involved.

"It's not just a 'Volkswagen-gate,' it's not just an affair affecting the whole of German industry. We have here fraud organised at a European level," claimed the organisation's chief, Jürgen Resch.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ansbach suicide attack
Isis says Syrian bomber in Bavaria one of its 'soldiers'
Photo: DPA

The Syrian asylum seeker who blew himself up outside a music festival in Germany was a "soldier" of the Isis, the jihadist-linked Amaq news agency said on Monday.

Merkel's refugee policy was 'reckless': Left Party leader
Photo: DPA

The attacks carried out by refugees over the past week show accepting large numbers of refugees brings "significant problems", the party's chairwoman said on Monday.

Ansbach suicide attack
What we know about the Ansbach suicide bomber
The attacker's rucksack. Photo: DPA

He had had his asylum application rejected and had twice attempted suicide, say authorities.

Ansbach suicide attack
Ansbach suicide bomber confirms Isis loyalty in video
Police remove evidence from the bombers residence. Photo: DPA

The man who blew himself up in Ansbach, Bavaria, on Sunday evening, injuring 15 people, recorded a video in which he pledged his allegiance to terror group Isis.

Top 10 German firms with the highest-paid employees
Photo: DPA

Want to know which companies shell out the most for salaries?

How will Germany change after string of bloody attacks?
A policeman in Ansbach on Sunday evening. Photo: DPA

Within seven days Germany has been hit by four bloody attacks on innocent people on its streets and in a train. What does this unprecedented string of murders mean for the country?

After attacks, minister rejects blanket suspicion of refugees
Thomas de Maiziere. Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on Monday cautioned Germans against indiscriminately branding all refugees a security threat after a rash of attacks over the last week.

What we know about the Reutlingen knife attack
Police arrest the attacker. Photo: DPA

... and what we don't.

Munich shooting
Police arrest possible accomplice of Munich gunman
Mourners in Munich. Photo: DPA

Authorities in Munich believe that a friend of the teenager who murdered nine people at a Munich shopping centre may have known about his plans.

Ansbach suicide attack
Suicide bomber attacks bar in Bavaria
Photo: DPA

A Syrian migrant set off an explosion at a bar in southern Germany that killed himself and wounded a dozen others late Sunday, authorities said, the third attack to hit Bavaria in a week.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,692
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd