Volkswagen Group has announced it will seek damages from its former CEO, Prof Martin Winterkorn, after a six-year investigation.
Wintekorn was named alongside former Audi CEO, Prof Rupert Stadler, by Volkswagen Group's Supervisory Board as allegedly being the two individuals responsible for the 'Dieselgate' saga, which has resulted in the company paying an estimated $46.5 billion in fines, compensation, and vehicle buybacks.
The German car company began an investigation in 2015 following reports its diesel models – advertised as 'clean' diesel cars in major markets – were found to be cheating emissions assessments, meeting the requirements under test conditions, but far exceeding legal limits when out on the road.
The company alleges Winterkorn and Stadler beached their duties of care by failing "to comprehensively and promptly clarify the circumstances behind the use of unlawful software functions" during government investigations.
Above: Prof Robert Stadler, former Audi CEO. Top: Prof Martin Winterkorn, former Volkswagen CEO.
No other members of its management board were found to have violated their responsibilities.
The investigation, which was carried out by a German law firm, sifted through 480 million documents, of which 1.6 million were found to be relevant, with a total of 1550 interviews conducted. It is considered the most comprehensive and complex investigation in the country's history.
In the years since, Volkswagen has pivoted away from diesel vehicles and began focusing on aggressively developing battery-electric technology – chasing segment-leader Tesla in a program called 'Mission T'.
Earlier this month, a spokesperson for Volkswagen's local arm criticised Australia's lagging emissions regulations, stating the country "is becoming an automotive third world".