The entire former board of Volkswagen should be investigated by prosecutors over the time it took to disclose the firm's emissions test cheating, Germany's financial watchdog BaFin has told the prosecutors' offce in Brunswick, Germany.
As the fallout from the emissions scandal continues, this latest report from Reuters comes as another blow for the company; current Volkswagen chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch and CEO Matthias Mueller were both members of the management board at the time when the scandal broke, as finance chief and head of the Porsche brand respectively.
Earlier in the week, multiple reports in the German media said that current Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess was under investigation by German authorities on suspicion of market manipulation in the company's emissions scandal.
That followed confirmation in a press release from the prosecutors' office that former Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn was being probed on the matter.
The office, which is also in charge of other investigations regarding VW, has said that the firm could have warned of possible financial losses relating to the scandal earlier than it did.
Volkswagen publicly admitted on 22 September 2015 that it had installed software in diesel vehicles that evaded emissions testing in order to meet fuel economy claims. However, these latest findings suggest that internal documents reveal Winterkorn had known about it for more than a year prior to this date.
The investigation is a result of a complaint by Germany’s financial regulator BaFin, the office said.
It added that Winterkorn faces a penalty of up to five years in prison or a fine if charged.
Volkswagen has not yet commented on this latest news, but following the press release earlier in the week, an official statement said that the "press release from the Braunschweig public prosecution service does not cite any new facts or information on any serious breaches of duty by the members of the Board of Management now accused".
Talking about legal reviews undertaken as part of the diesel scandal investigation, the company added that "according to information currently available, no serious and manifest breaches of duty on the part of any serving or former members of the Board of Management have been established".
In today's Volkswagen Group's shareholder AGM, boss Matthias Müller came out in defence of the company, but failed to comment directly on the latest allegations against Diess and Winterkorn.
Müller apologised to shareholders, admitting "our management structure must improve" and that the company “cannot undo the past”, but reiterated plans for Volkswagen’s 2025 strategy, which includes the development of electric and autonomous vehicles.
He also announced that the manufacturer received approval for technical fixes on a further one million cars from Germany’s motor vehicle authority, the KBA, taking the total number of recalls to 3.7 million vehicles, saying he anticipates the recall campaign will gain momentum towards the end of this year.