Staff involved with emission rigging ‘acted criminally’: Volkswagen board member

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Volkswagen board member Olaf Lies has said that staff involved with emission rigging ‘acted criminally’ and that they should take personal responsibilities for their actions.

Speaking with the BBC, Olaf, who is also economy minister of the northwestern German state of Lower Saxony, said that the people who allowed this to happen or made the decision of installing the piece of software that fooled emission tests acted criminally.

He acknowledged that huge damage has been done because of this and that millions of people have lost faith in VW. He further added that while he is sure that lots of people will be suing the company for damages, they are going to recall lots of cars and fix the issue and that has to happen really fast.

The world’s biggest carmaker by sales has revealed a plan to refit millions of vehicles affected by the scam, in which devices were fitted that switch on pollution controls when they detect the car is being tested. German authorities have already announced that they will be commencing a criminal investigation into the matter and of the carmaker’s former chief executive Martin Winterkorn, who resigned over the scandal. Authorities in other countries have also began their independent investigation into the matter.

As it stands, the German government has given the company until October 7 to explain how it will resolve the scandal, which has wiped €29-billion ($33-billion), or 38 percent, off the company’s market value in 10 days.

The controls fitted in up to 11 million diesel cars worldwide switch off when the vehicles are on the road, allowing them to emit harmful levels of emissions.

Lies said that the Volkswagen board had only found out about the issue shortly before the scandal broke this month when US officials publicly accused the company of cheating, and wanted to know why the board wasn’t informed earlier.

He said that restoring trust and ensuring that ordinary Volkswagen workers were not blamed was the company’s priority.

“I’m ashamed that the people in America who bought cars with complete confidence are so disappointed,” Lies said.