Ex-VW chairman Piech refuses to testify in German emissions inquiry

Ex-Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech Photo VW

Posted by Joseph R Fonseca

Ex-Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech, who resigned
after a showdown with former chief executive Martin Winterkorn,
has refused to testify to German lawmakers investigating a
possible government's role in the VW emissions scandal, according
to his lawyer.

Piech, also VW's former CEO who spearheaded the carmaker's global
expansion, gave testimony to lawyers of U.S. law firm Jones Day
last April and to German prosecutors in Braunschweig near VW's
Wolfsburg headquarters in December, his lawyer said.

"These comments were solely directed at the inquirers of Jones
Day and the prosecutors respectively. They were not directed at
the public media," Piech's Hamburg-based lawyer, Gerhard Strate,
said in an emailed statement.

He said Piech has no intention "to comment in public on what is
being circulated as the alleged content of the questioning".

The German parliamentary committee of inquiry has expressed its
intention to summon Piech. The committee chairman did not return
calls seeking comment on Piech's refusal to testify.

A German media report earlier this week said Piech had informed
top directors at VW about potential cheating with diesel
emissions tests in the United States six months before the
scandal became public in September 2015.

Piech has not commented on the report by Bild am Sonntag.

The unsourced report said Piech raised the issue with Winterkorn
and subsequently informed members of the supervisory board's
steering committee in March 2015 - a month before Piech was
ousted as chairman.

VW has said it might take legal action against Piech over his
reported assertions. The supervisory board's labour
representatives have since denied the reported allegations, as
did Stephan Weil, a member of the steering committee and prime
minister of Lower Saxony state, VW's No. 2 stakeholder.

The German parliamentary committee will next Thursday question
Weil and Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt over the scandal.

The panel was set up last April to clarify whether Germany's
federal government and regulators were involved in VW's
manipulations or failed to contribute towards their disclosure.

Last month it questioned Winterkorn, who denied early knowledge
of the cheating.

(Reporting by Jan Schwartz and Andreas Cremer; editing by Mark
Heinrich)

Feb 12, 2017

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