Exhaust gas affair: volkswagen defends itself, porsche demands change

In the emissions scandal, volkswagen is defending itself against accusations that the company’s former boss martin winterkorn is to blame. So far, there is no evidence of complicity on the part of the board of management, argue lawyers for the group in a response to investor lawsuits reported to the german press agency . Supervisory board member wolfgang porsche spoke out in favor of a new culture of discussion in the group’s management bodies and wants to openly address difficult ies at VW after "dieselgate". Bernd osterloh, head of the works council, expressed a similar view. "If, for example, we discover that we have an overstaffing situation in individual areas at volkswagen, we have to be able to think about constructive solutions at an early stage," porsche told the german press agency. "This avoids having to lay people off overnight in the event of a crisis."Porsche spoke out in favor of a new culture of communication, even in the upper echelons: "we need to talk more to each other instead of about each other. And that is something we still need to improve in the group."

As chief controller of porsche SE, the 72-year-old is the most influential member of porsche’s supervisory board. The families hold the majority of volkswagen voting rights via the porsche holding company. Volkswagen itself will try to avoid job cuts in the core workforce after the slump in profits in the wake of the scandal. However, job cuts are still possible. So far, it is mainly the temporary workers who fear for their jobs.

The volkswagen emissions scandal became public in mid-september 2015 following a report by U.S. Environmental authorities. Volkswagen then admitted to having installed software in around eleven million diesel vehicles worldwide that had been used to manipulate emission values. This had plunged the group into a serious crisis. Billions in costs loom – also due to lawsuits. VW made its first mandatory announcement to the stock market, a so-called ad hoc announcement, on 22 december. September 2015. One day later the long-time head of volkswagen martin winterkorn resigned. He accepts responsibility for the irregularities, but is not aware of any wrongdoing, winterkorn said at the time.

Two questions in particular are now being disputed in the investigation of the scandal: should volkswagen have informed the public earlier?? And is VW’s top management partly to blame for the scandal?? Various investors are claiming in court that volkswagen was too late in providing information about the scope of the affair. They feel they have been robbed of a lot of money due to losses on the stock market and are therefore suing. In its reply VW rejects these accusations. The company argues that there was an "overriding interest in secrecy" on the part of the group until the U.S. Environmental protection agency (EPA) made a public announcement on 18 february. September 2015 informed the public about the manipulations. The volkswagen board had been allowed to ame that a "consensual solution" was possible with the U.S. Authorities, which had not led to weighty economic consequences for the group. The paper goes on to say that the decision to use the manipulation software was made "independently" by individual employees at subordinate levels of aggregate development – "of which the volkswagen board of management had no knowledge". The entire board of management knew about the software manipulations only a few weeks before the affair was publicly exposed. Other points of view are allegations "in the dark.

At the same time, however, the brief states that, according to current knowledge, there were growing indications at volkswagen from the end of may 2015 that a program violating U.S. Law could have been used. Individual board members, however, had been informed only in "general terms". Winterkorn himself already received a note in may 2014 about irregularities with the EA189 engine. Whether he took note of them, however, is not documented according to volkswagen.

Osterloh called for a fresh start. It is a matter of refortifying the "moral foundations of our company," he said in a speech in the lower saxony state parliament in hanover. "This cannot be done without regaining the trust of our customers, our workforces, but also of politicians and society at large."VW had been "very taken in by its own pace of growth" in recent years, perhaps also "too impressed by its own success". "Perhaps we also overlooked the fact that not every problem can be dealt with in an engineering-mabile manner," said the works council head.

The bild am sonntag had reported that winterkorn had read the memo at the time, citing sources from the law firm jones day, which was commissioned by volkswagen. According to media reports, VW’s then-chief financial officer and current head of the supervisory board, hans dieter potsch, had on 8. September 2015 that volkswagen had acknowledged to U.S. Authorities that it had used cheating software. Volkswagen now wants to quickly settle the many investor lawsuits in the wake of the emissions affair with a bundled class action in court. The group itself filed an application for a so-called test case at the braunschweig higher regional court. In the second half of april, VW will publicly inform about the status of the internal investigation and clarification work so far.

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