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VW Officials Destroyed Files, E-Mails as Diesel Scheme Unraveled

  • Automaker pleads guilty, five more charged in emissions cheat
  • Defeat device called key to VW selling more clean-diesel cars
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VW Pleads Guilty as U.S. Charges Five More in Scandal

Volkswagen AG’s nearly decade-old plot to cheat U.S. emissions tests -- all while marketing its diesel cars as environmentally friendly -- was quickly unraveling by 2015. A campaign to mislead regulators was failing so badly that top executives signed off on a script for employees to use when questioned. 

It didn’t work. The next day, Aug. 19, 2015, an employee went off script and told regulators for the first time that its diesel cars were designed to behave differently during emissions tests, according to court documents. In the home office in Germany, some executives and engineers began deleting documents related to U.S. emissions and the company’s head of engine development told an assistant to dispose of a hard drive containing e-mails from him and other supervisors.