Volkswagen may seek damages from ex-CEO Winterkorn over scandal

Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn

Volkswagen is checking whether to seek damages from former Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn, who was a CEO of the automaker when it became known that the automaker had cheated on emissions tests, supervisory board member Stephan Weil informed a newspaper.

“Damages against former management board members are under serious consideration, I’m not just stating that,” he informed Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview when asked whether the automaker would seek damages from Winterkorn.

“Once we know the result of investigations, we will make a decision,” stated Weil, who represents the German state of Lower Saxony, a Volkswagen shareholder, on the company’s board.

The automaker has for years stated only lower-level managers were aware of the emissions cheating, but U.S. authorities filed criminal charges against Winterkorn previously this year.

This month, Munich prosecutors expanded their investigation into VW’s premium brand Audi. They stated they were investigating Audi Chief Executive Rupert Stadler for suspected fraud and misleading advertising and for his alleged role in helping to bring vehicles equipped with illegal software on to the European market.

Recently, they arrested Stadler, citing concerns he may attempt to interfere with the investigation. The arrest prompted the supervisory board to suspend him and put Bram Schot as interim Audi CEO.

Asked by Sueddeutsche why Stadler was suspended rather than removed completely, Weil said many questions remained unanswered.

“It is a matter of fairness to wait until the matter is cleared up. Any usual employer would do that,” he stated, including he could not predict if Stadler would return to his post.

Stadler remains remanded in custody but has not been charged yet with a crime. Volkswagen and Audi have stated that Stadler should be presumed innocent unless proven otherwise.

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