After German media reported his suspension last week, Audi announced today technical development boss Stefan Knirsch is stepping down and leaving the automaker.
The executive, who sat on Audi’s management board, found himself caught up in the investigation surrounding Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. Meanwhile, a German newspaper claims that newly discovered documents show ex-Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn mislead U.S. authorities before the scandal broke.
Last week,Â Bild am Sonntag reported that investigators from the U.S. law firm Jones Day, tasked with probing the automaker’s emissions cheating, discovered evidence that Knirsch knew about the rigged diesel engines and provided a false affidavit. Knirsch took on the role of tech boss on January 1 of this year. His predecessor, Ulrich Hackenberg, stepped down last December as the scandal grew.
In a one-sentence statement issued by Audi, the automaker says Knirsch “is stepping down from his position with immediate effect and is leaving the company in agreement with the Supervisory Board.”
No replacement has been announced.
While Volkswagen AG’s former CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down following the scandal, his name is now being dragged back into the spotlight.
According to Bloomberg, Bild has found documents approved by Winterkorn that paint an incomplete picture of the company’s deception for U.S. investigators. The signed documents, reportedly dated July 28 of last year, contain a plan to release only some of the information requested of the company. At a August 5, 2016 meeting with U.S. regulators, VW engineers admitted the engines weren’t compliant, and said they were working to fix them.
German prosecutors launched an investigation into Winterkorn last June. They aim to find out if the top executive waited too long to reveal the automaker was under investigation. A number of investor lawsuits allege the company and its management kept a lid on information that would have prevented financial losses to shareholders.
German media reported last month that former chairmanÂ Ferdinand PiÃ«ch resigned after failing to get answers from Winterkorn about the rigged engines. PiÃ«ch left the company in April 2015 after questioning Winterkorn a month earlier. Evidence has shown Winterkorn mayÂ have had knowledge of the devices as early as May of 2014.[Image: Volkswagen AG/Wikimedia Commons]