— German media are reporting Volkswagen's CEO may have known about the company's emissions cheating scheme earlier than first claimed but failed to inform investigators and investors about the problems.
German magazine Der Spiegel claims documents from German prosecutors allege CEO Herbert Diess was at a July 27, 2015, meeting where executives and engineers were talking about possible problems in the U.S.
German prosecutors allegedly unsealed the documents that claim Diess may have known about the emissions problems at least two months before investors were informed. Although Diess wasn't CEO at the time, he was still a high-level executive who could have warned investors about the potential disaster.
Volkswagen says investors weren't notified earlier because management had no idea the emissions problems were as big as they were. VW says it was trying to figure out if the emissions software was truly illegal, which is allegedly why the July 2015 meeting took place.
Der Spiegel says Diess had company at the July 2015 meeting as former CEO Martin Winterkorn was there and allegedly asked Diess if BMW had used illegal emissions defeat devices on its cars when Diess was with that automaker.
According to the German magazine, Mr. Diess denied BMW used illegal emissions software, but the magazine says Diess and Winterkorn left the meeting with some sort of presentation until a VW employee recommended against it.
In May 2018, Winterkorn was accused of conspiracy and wire fraud by the U.S. Justice Department, with prosecutors alleging he knew about Volkswagen's fraud in May 2014 and was in charge of the July 2015 meeting referenced by German prosecutors.
In court documents, U.S. prosecutors describe the 2015 meeting as the "damage table meeting" that described the consequences if the automaker was caught cheating on emissions tests.