A German investigative media group has reported that former Volkswagen Group engine development boss Wolfgang Hatz has been taken into custody for questioning on his involvement in VW’s diesel emission manipulation scandal.
The media group consists of the Süddeutscher Zeitung newspaper and German government-funded Norddeutscher Rundfunk and Westdeutscher Rundfunk broadcasters.
News of Hatz’s detention on Thursday follows confirmation from the public prosecutor’s office in Munich that it has arrested a VW employee following a search of various offices and houses by the German police.
Hatz’s rumoured arrest is seen as a turning point in the so-called Dieselgate scandal due to his close association with former VW Group chairman Martin Winterkorn.
Under Winterkorn’s leadership, Hatz was the head of engine development at Audi between 2001 and 2007 – a crucial stage in the development of software solutions to enable diesel engines to pass emissions standards in the US. In 2007, Hatz followed Winterkorn to VW, where he acted as engine boss for the entire group until 2011.
From 2011 to 2015, Hatz was a member of the board responsible for research and development at Porsche.
58-year-old Hatz is not the first former high ranking Volkswagen manager to be suspected of involvement in diesel emission test manipulation, but if the report published by the Süddeutscher Zeitung on Thursday holds true he is the first to be taken into custody in Germany. In July, the Munich public prosecutor office confirmed it had arrested 60-year-old Giovanni Pamio on possible involvement in the Dieselgate emission scandal. Pamio, an employee of Audi, was involved in the development of diesel engines.