Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

VW Diesel Scandal May Ensnare More Employees, Chairman Says

Updated on
  • U.S. asked VW to refrain from some steps as probe is ongoing
  • VW had tried to downplay scope of diesel engine rigging

Volkswagen AG chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said the number of employees implicated in its diesel-emissions scandal could rise beyond those identified so far, highlighting the struggles the German carmaker faces to resolve the deepest crisis in its history.

U.S. authorities asked VW to refrain from taking steps against some employees in order to not jeopardize ongoing investigations, Poetsch told reporters late Monday at a press conference in Geneva.

The probe could widen to “a number of people,” Poetsch said, declining to elaborate on the exact number of employees potentially involved or the management ranks of those expected to be investigated.

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VW’s initial claim that the rigging of emissions tests for as many as 11 million diesel cars was restricted to a small number of rogue engineers was called into question when the U.S. Department of Justice indicted seven VW employees for their wrongdoing and stated some 40 staff were involved in destroying documents around the time when the scandal came to light in September 2015.

The Audi premium-car unit last month fired four engineers for their role in the cheating. Other VW employees have been suspended or have left the company in the wake of the investigations.

Volkswagen shares were little changed at 144.25 euros at 9:11 a.m. in Frankfurt trading, valuing the company at 72.8 billion euros. The carmaker continues to tally financial damages from the crisis, with its bill for fines, buybacks and settlements so far at 22.6 billion euros.

(Updates with share reaction in final paragraph.)
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