VOLKSWAGEN HAS admitted that its former chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, was told of problems with emissions in America nearly a year and a half before the company was ordered to recall its cars by US officials.
A memo was sent to Winterkorn in May 2014, alerting him to a study carried out by US researchers. It raised questions about whether VW diesel-powered cars were pumping out more harmful pollutants in real-world driving conditions than in government tests.
VW says the memo was sent as part of Winterkorn’s “extensive weekend mail” and does not specify who sent it. It could not say whether it was read by the chief executive.
Later, in November 2014, Winterkorn was sent another memo, outlining the possible costs of correcting the emissions problem, which was then estimated at €20m.
VW is defending itself against lawsuits, lodged in Germany, that claim it was too slow to inform investors of the emissions rigging scandal.