A Volkswagen board member has told the BBC staff acted criminally to cheat emissions readings in a worsening scandal for the car manufacturer.
About 11 million diesel engine cars are affected by the problem which saw the German car giant, which also manufactures Audi and Skoda, admit it had installed devices in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, changing the performance accordingly to improve results.
Since the scandal has broken Volkswagen Martin Winterkorn has resigned and the company has recalled more than 500,000 cars in the US alone. It has set aside €6.5bn to cover costs, but even that is unlikely to be enough.
Yesterday Olaf Lies, a Volkswagen board member, told the BBC people who “allowed the deception to happen or who installed the software that allowed certain models to give false emissions readings must take personal responsibility”.
He said the board only found out about the issue at its last meeting.
Mr Lies told the BBC: “Those people who allowed this to happen, or who made the decision to install this software – they acted criminally. They must take personal responsibility.”
He said: “We only found out about the problems in the last board meeting, shortly before the media did. I want to be quite open. So we need to find out why the board wasn’t informed earlier about the problems when they were known about over a year ago in the United States.”
Lies said he had no idea of what the total repair and legal bill would be.
“Huge damage has been done because millions of people have lost their faith in VW. We are surely going to have a lot of people suing for damages. We have to recall lots of cars and it has to happen really fast.”