Contrary to earlier claims from Volkswagen that only a small group of engineers knew of the company's emissions testing defeat devices, a new report claims that it was an open secret within some departments.

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A veteran of Volkswagen's engine development department has spoken to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, and public broadcasters NDR and WDR.

According to this informant, it was well known within the department, especially amongst employees and management dealing with emissions, that the company was developing defeat devices to allow some engines to cheat their way past emissions testing.

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The employee told the German news outlets that he informed a senior manager from outside his department about what was going on in 2011, but no action was taken. This person later joined the board of the Volkswagen brand and has since been let go by the company in the wake of the dieselgate affair.

The newspaper claims that Volkswagen's internal investigation into the matter, which is currently still underway, has learnt that the department was put under severe pressure to come up with a quick and inexpensive way to make some of its diesel engines compliant with US emissions regulations.

Rather than admit to the board that this could not be done legally, in an act of desperation, and emboldened by the measurement methods for emissions regulations, the company's engineers decided to employ more dubious techniques.

Employees have told the committee that the computer components for managing an engine's emissions were modified after they were delivered to Volkswagen from Bosch.

Hauptversammlung 2013 am 25 April in Hannover

Above: Martin Winterkorn (left) and Ferdinand Piech (right).

Many have testified to the investigation committee that they feared their bosses, especially then chairman Ferdinand Piech and former CEO Martin Winterkorn.

Piech, an engineer in his own right and a powerful member of the Porsche family, resigned from his positions at Volkswagen after unsuccessfully trying unseat in Winterkorn early in 2015.

Winterkorn quit the company days after the company admitted that it had fitted emissions testing defeat devices to around 11 million cars with the EA189 turbo-diesel engine.

It's understood that Volkswagen wants to present the findings of its investigations at a shareholders' meeting in April. Investigations currently being undertaken by German authorities will not be completed until later.

More: All our news on the dieselgate affair.