German prosecutors investigating the Volkswagen Dieselgate case have unearthed recordings of private phone conversations about the scandal between former Volkswagen Group engine boss Wolfgang Hatz and other high-ranking managers, according to the Handelsblatt newspaper.
The recordings were made by Hatz’s wife over a hands-free car speaker, according to Handelsblatt’s sources. Prosecutors discovered them as an attachment to an email in a mobile phone belonging to her.
They are said to include recordings between Hatz, who also served as Porsche research and development boss, and figures including former Volkswagen Group chairman Matthias Müller, current Porsche chairman Oliver Blume and Michael Steiner, who was initially selected by the Group to lead an investigation into Dieselgate.
In one recording, Hatz is claimed to have asked Müller how his particular situation as part of the diesel emissions affair was likely to continue. Müller reportedly answered: “I don’t want to deceive you; I can’t do anything against the decision of the Volkswagen supervisory board.”
Hatz replied by denying involvement with what he described as “cheat software”, suggesting it was “the crap of the parent company”. Müller is then reported to have replied: “I'm really trying to get you out… but as soon as my name appears somewhere, then it will be difficult. Keep your nerve.”
During a recording of a conversation with Blume, Hatz is claimed to regularly lay blame for the inclusion of cheat software in diesel engines with the Volkswagen Group. He is also reported as saying the cheat software used by Audi was the result of “unhappy parameters” developed by “idiots”.
Hatz is claimed to have exchanged engineering details with former Porsche research and development boss Steiner, who apparently said in relation to the US Environmental Protection Agency: “We haven’t tried to fool them a second time.”
Hatz was arrested in Germany in September 2017 on suspicion of harbouring knowledge of the events leading to the decision to install illegal emissions manipulation software in various diesel engines used by the Volkswagen Group. He was released on bail in June 2018.