Former VW boss Winterkorn quits as head of holding company

Martin Winterkorn
Martin Winterkorn

Martin Winterkorn arrives for the company’s annual press conference in Berlin recently.

Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, who resigned in the wake of the emissions cheating scandal, is stepping down as head of the group’s Porsche SE holding at the end of the month, the Stuttgart-based group said.

Winterkorn will hand over to Hans-Dieter Poetsch, who moves into the top job with Volkswagen’s biggest shareholder from his current role as financial director.

Porsche SE is the investment arm of the Piech and Porsche families, who inherited the Volkswagen empire built up by Ferdinand Porsche.

Matthias Mueller, 62, formerly head of the group’s luxury sports car maker Porsche, took over from Winterkorn as CEO three weeks ago after the latter resigned.

Winterkorn’s position swiftly became untenable after it emerged Volkswagen had used cheat devices to rig pollution emissions in off-road tests.

The scandal broke on stunning revelations by US environmental authorities that the German carmaker had fitted 11 million of its diesel diesel cars with software capable of tricking emissions tests.

The scam is set to lead to billions of dollars of fines and more still in a stream of legal actions.

Also on Sunday, a judicial source in Paris said that Police have raided Volkswagen’s French headquarters over an investigation into the massive pollution-cheating scandal that has engulfed the auto giant.

Investigators searched the company’s main office in Villers-Cotterets in northern France Friday, as well as another office near Paris, seizing documents and computer hardware in the process, the source added.

Like other countries, France has opened a probe into possible fraud over the pollution-cheating software installed in diesel engines by Volkswagen, which has admitted that 11 million vehicles worldwide are equipped with the program that dupes emission testing.

Nearly one million diesel cars of the Volkswagen brands — VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat — have been sold in France in recent years fitted with the pollution-cheating software, according to VW’s French unit.

The World Health Organization in 2012 declared emissions from diesel engines to be carcinogenic.

Some of the vehicles with the cheat devices were found to emit 40 times the legally sanctioned levels of air pollutants called nitrogen oxides.

Police in Italy also raided Volkswagen’s offices last week.

In Germany, prosecutors said Friday they had identified fewer than 10 suspects in the pollution-cheating scandal, as Volkswagen announced a drop in worldwide sales.

The revelations about VW’s manipulation of its diesel engines have sparked one of the biggest scandals in the history of the automobile sector.

Chief executive Martin Winterkorn was forced to resign — replaced by Matthias Mueller, the former boss of the group’s luxury sports brand Porsche.

VW also announced Friday it had named a top executive from rival carmaker Daimler as its new board member in charge of integrity and legal affairs from January 1.

In addition to the costs of repairing so many vehicles, the once-respected automaker now faces billions of euros (dollars) in potential fines and legal costs, aside from the incalculable fallout from lost sales and diminished customer trust.

The auto giant has said it will recall a total of 8.5 million diesel vehicles in Europe alone.


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