Some three years after Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal, revelations about the extent to which upper management were complicit in perpetrating the fraud continue:
The latest controversy surrounds the now-CEO of Volkswagen, Herbert Deiss. A car industry man possessed of considerable engineering expertise, Deiss has a reputation in the company as being a control freak with an appetite for detail; a person for whom intensive progress checking was pivotal to work routine. The fraud was organized proficiently; indeed, the purposely scant paper trail between the vehicle testing floor and the boardroom impeded the investigation.
Working as head of the VW brand in 2015, it is more than likely that Deiss was aware of the diesel emissions cheating much earlier than the two months quoted by Reuters. As the scale of the scandal emerged, Deiss and other executives were present at many meetings to discuss damage control. Obfuscation was, in the scandal's early months, the rule of the day - VW's executives in public claimed to be uncertain of the law, to be ignorant of the technical data, and (most improbably) that a group of rogue engineers orchestrated it all.
Tall and slim, under pressure Deiss presents a relaxed, confident demeanor with a maintenance of eye contact and a restrained expression. In interviews, he expresses stress with a downcast gaze rather than hesitant speech or stammer:
In short, Herbert Deiss - and very likely numerous other VW and other car company execs - are NP types.
The arrest of Audi executive Rupert Stadler in June is another belated development. Given that the technology was responsible for pollutants that caused at minimum hundreds of deaths and untold injury across the USA and Europe, and polluted the environment with NO2, one might argue jail time for executives on charges of fraud and corporate manslaughter (as opposed to mere company fines) would better fit crimes of such gravity. Several executives either retired or left the industry, and many departed with multi-million euro severance packages dubbed 'golden parachutes'. Justice?