Former Volkswagen boss Martin Winterkorn was slow to address emissions test cheating that resulted in huge U.S. fines, a judge hearing a damages case brought by investors against the German automaker stated on Tuesday.
The question of who knew was aware of that, and when, will be important in discovering the outcome of the suit in which investors are looking for 9.2 billion euros ($10.6 billion) in damages for share price losses suffered when the scandal was revealed.
Separately, a consumer rights group stated it would submit a class-action lawsuit on Wednesday against the automaker over the manipulation of emissions software, looking for the compensation for up to 2 million owners of impacted diesel models.
The plaintiffs in the first case stated Volkswagen (VW) failed in its duty to notify them about the financial effect of the scandal, which broke when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a so-called notice of violation on September 18, 2015.
Judge Christian Jaede stated then-CEO Winterkorn had dragged his feet following a top-level management meeting two months previously talked about how to deal with U.S. regulators who were threatening to ban the automaker because of excessive pollution levels. The plaintiffs stated that from this moment, Winterkorn knew of the cheating.
“Anyone acting in good faith would have followed up on this data,” Jaede stated on the second day of hearings into the case at the Braunschweig higher regional court. “This seems not to have happened.”
It was not clear, the judge informed, why the company had not put issued a statement after establishing that engine software had been manipulated to get around emissions tests.
The judge also stated it was not unreasonable to take the view that Winterkorn was aware of the emissions cheating much before.