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January 20, 2017

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Ex-VW CEO denies early knowledge of cheating

FORMER Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn denied having had early knowledge of the company’s cheating on diesel emissions as he testified yesterday to a German parliamentary inquiry, his first major public appearance since he resigned.

The 69-year-old stepped down in September 2015, days after news of Volkswagen’s use of software to cheat on emissions emerged in the US, saying at the time that he was not aware of any wrongdoing on his part.

“As CEO I took political responsibility,” he told lawmakers. “Believe me, this step was the most difficult of my life.”

Winterkorn, flanked by two lawyers, told the panel in an opening statement “it is not the case” that he knew earlier than previously thought of the scandal, as some recent reports have suggested. He said he’s still seeking “satisfactory answers” as to what happened.

Winterkorn said he wouldn’t comment on details that are a matter for a criminal investigation by prosecutors in Braunschweig, Germany, and declined to answer questions on when exactly he knew what.

The former CEO said “love of detail” was his “trademark.”

“It is not comprehensible why I was not informed early and clearly about the measurement problems,” he said.

“Of course I ask myself if I missed signals or misread them,” he added. He wouldn’t elaborate on what those signals were, citing the ongoing probe — which centers on charges that top executives didn’t inform investors soon enough of the emissions-cheating scandal.


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