Winterkorn 'knew of emissions cheating in 2014'

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Official emails and memos from inside Volkswagen suggest that high-ranking officials, including former chief executive Martin Winterkorn, knew of potential emissions issues in early 2014, according to reports.

A confidant alerted Winterkorn that regulators could accuse the German manufacturer of using an alleged 'defeat device' in May 2014, more than a year before he told officials he was aware of the transgression, it has emerged.

Despite the warning, it wasn't until September of last year that VW admitted publicly that 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide had been fitted with defeat devices.

Winterkorn resigned a day after the public announcement on September 22, saying that he knew nothing of the cheat devices until just before the admission.

The New York Times reported that two people, who recently held senior positions at VW, confirmed the validity of the documents but defended the company's actions.

If it is proved that other senior officials knew of the cheating before the statement in September 2015, the fines placed on VW could increase because of the failure to disclose issues that could affect the company's share price on stock markets.

According to the New York Times, the illegal 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre diesel engines were allegedly producing 35 times the allowed amount of nitrogen oxide, which couldn't be detected during testing as software in the vehicles activated pollution-control equipment when the tests were being run.

It's thought that Volkswagen could end up paying as much as $90bn in fines in America in the wake of the scandal – far more than what US officials originally estimated.

Author: Jack Healy