Dieselgate Scandal VW State Investor Calls Piëch's Implications 'Fake News'

The state premier of Lower Saxony, a Volkswagen shareholder, has dismissed accusations from VW patriarch Ferdinand Piëch as “fake news” after a newspaper claimed the former chairman suggested supervisory board members knew of the cheat devices sooner than they have admitted.
Lower Saxony's State Premier Stephan Weil rejected claims made by his former fellow VW supervisory board member, Ferdinand Piëch.

As new revelations suggest senior Volkswagen board members knew sooner than they have admitted about Dieselgate, accusations are flying in response about "fake news."

On Wednesday, a German newspaper reported that Ferdinand Piëch, a major VW investor, former CEO and chairman of the carmaker, accused several supervisory board members of having known about emissions cheating earlier than they have acknowledged.

Less than 24 hours later, Stephan Weil, the state premier of Lower Saxony, a key shareholder in Volkswagen, strongly dismissed the allegation, echoing the supervisory board's response on Wednesday evening.

“I regret that a man like Ferdinand Piëch, who has achieved indisputable accomplishments, has now reached out to means which can only be described as ‘fake news,'” Mr. Weil told reporters on Thursday.

Mr. Piëch accused Mr. Weil and other supervisory board members of having known that VW manipulated diesel emissions months before the facts emerged in September 2015, according to newspaper Bild.

Since February 2013, Mr. Weil has been a member of VW’s non-executive supervisory board, which has the power to hire and fire executives.

Works councils chief Bernd Osterloh and former supervisory board member Berthold Huber also rejected Mr. Piëch's allegations in a joint statement.

"These claims are untrue," they said. "If Dr. Piëch had informed us, then we could have perhaps protected the company and personnel from great damage."

Handelsblatt sources close to the supervisory board have indicated that those implicated in Mr. Piëch's allegations are willing to make statements under oath that they were not informed by Mr. Piëch about diesel emissions manipulation.

Last week, magazine Der Spiegel reported Mr. Piëch also implicated that former CEO Martin Winterkorn knew of U.S. diesel emissions rigging early in 2015. Mr. Winterkorn, who resigned days after the scandal became public in September 2015, and the company have repeated they only became aware of the deceit earlier that same month.

In the supervisory board’s statement released Wednesday evening, the non-executive committee said that an internal investigation by law firm Jones Day had classified Mr. Piëch’s allegations as “implausible overall.”

The Porsche and Piëch families, which hold 52 percent of Volkswagen's shares, are also apparently unhappy with Mr. Piëch's recent statements. There's speculation that Mr. Piëch could lose his seat on the supervisory board of the family's holding company, Porsche SE.