According to a report published on Wednesday in Der Spiegel, Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal was not caused a small handful of people as Volkswagen upper management has claimed. Instead, at least 30 managers responsible were involved in deciding to commit to the Dieselgate fraud, or what Der Spiegel called “Abgasaffäre”.
I’ve written previously about repeated VW Group supervisory board statements that the fraud was committed by low level engineers, without knowledge of the upper management. If true it’s troubling that corporate governance at Volkswagen could be so far out of control as to allow such a problem to occur.
I have never believed the VW Group supervisory board statements. As I explained previously, it seems to me that because the Dieselgate problem affected multiple cars, from multiple brands, over multiple years, and multiple revisions of the Type EA189 TDI Diesel engine, that the decision to commit fraud required agreement from managers in sections of the company related to those areas.
Maybe those managers were able to keep the decision out oversight of the supervisory board. I can buy that, maybe, though it’s still troubling to think that corporate governance is so weak to allow that to occur. It’s also possible the fraud was contained within the engine development team, who then simply provided an engine component to other VW Group divisions (Audi, Skoda, etc) who then integrated the engine into vehicles without too much analysis over emissions control systems.
According to Der Spiegel, citing information from a source close to the internal investigation by independent law firm Jones Day, it’s believed that the fraud decision was made by a group of at least 30 managers. The number could grow as the investigation proceeds.
A VW Group supervisory board spokesperson denied the story.
Der Spiegel says this mirrors the pattern of an earlier fraud committed by electronics giant Siemens. In that case the Siemens supervisory board at first claimed there were transgressions by a small group, but over the course of that investigation several Siemens supervisory board members had to abandon their jobs with Siemens.
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