“I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.”

Martin Winterkorn, former CEO of VW in 2015 when the VW falsified emissions test scandal emerged. Mr. Winterkorn resigned shortly thereafter. VW settled the emissions scandal with the EPA for $25 billion. However, on March 15, 2019, the SEC filed a civil suit against VW and Mr. Winterkorn for misleading bond investors about the emission scandal. The complaint alleges that Mr. Winterkorn was told of the emissions falsification as early as 2007, just after he became VW’s CEO.

The Barometer believed that the phrasing of the Winterkorn. See post on September 17, 2015 for these denials:

“I am shocked by the events of the past few days. Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group.”
“I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.”
“I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group.”

According to the SEC complaint, which lawyers for VW call “legally and factually flawed,” and VW will offer a vigorous defense. However, the complaint highlights Mr. Winterkorn’s management style of micro-management and noted this quote in the 2010 annual report of the company:

The Volkswagen Group is so successful today because this notion of ‘digging deeper’ has become part of our corporate culture. . . . As an automotive manager, it is not enough simply to enjoy driving cars—you have to understand them right down to every last detail. Many things in our Group today only work because my Board of Management colleagues and I are extremely well versed in all aspects of the business. If developers say that a solution is not possible from a technical, timing, or financial point of view, I am able to challenge them. And everyone knows that.

And the complaint also alleges:

Winterkorn and other VW executives were made aware of the defeat device as early as November 2007, during a meeting with VW engineers, to discuss the emissions problems with VW’s “clean diesel” vehicles. Although at least one meeting participant warned that putting the existing vehicles on the road in the U.S. would damage VW’s reputation if the vehicles’ high emissions were later discovered, those concerns were ignored.

And the bonds were sold based on the representations of a successful clean diesel vehicle. The case will continue to highlight what the SEC has uncovered and strengthens the bond holders’ civil suit for recovery of their losses.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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