VW demands billion-euro 'dieselgate' payout from ex-CEO: report

Volkswagen is demanding compensation from ex-CEO  Martin Winterkorn for "breach of duty" in connection with the "
Volkswagen is demanding compensation from ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn for "breach of duty" in connection with the "dieselgate" scandal

Auto giant Volkswagen is seeking more than a billion euros ($1.2 billion) in damages from ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn over the "dieselgate" emissions cheating scandal, German media reported on Friday.

The sum would be the highest ever claim for damages against a company executive in Germany, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Volkswagen has written to Winterkorn to demand the sum, the bulk of which is likely to be covered by his liability insurance, the report said, without citing its sources.

Volkswagen and a source close to Winterkorn both declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

The Volkswagen group was plunged into crisis in 2015 when it admitted to installing cheating software in 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide to dupe pollution tests.

The scandal, based on allegations from the US Environmental Protection Agency, has so far cost the German car giant more than 30 billion euros ($35 billion) in fines, legal costs and compensation.

VW said in March it would be demanding compensation from Winterkorn, as well as Rupert Stadler, the former head of its Audi division, for "breach of duty" in connection with the affair. The company did not reveal how much it was seeking then.

The amount demanded from Stadler "is expected to be much smaller" than that asked of Winterkorn, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported.

VW accuses Winterkorn of failing to take action from July 2015 to get "immediate and comprehensive" information about the use of the illegal software in vehicles sold in North America between 2009 and 2015.

It also says he "failed in this context to ensure that the questions asked by the US authorities were truthfully and fully answered".

Winterkorn, 73, and four other ex-Volkswagen colleagues are due to go on trial together in Germany on charges of organised commercial fraud and serious tax evasion.

The start of proceedings has been repeatedly pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic and is now set to start on September 16.

The first senior executive to go on trial over "dieselgate" was Stadler, 58, whose fraud proceedings opened in Munich last year.

© 2021 AFP

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