Attorneys general from New York, Massachusetts and Maryland announced lawsuits today against Volkswagen and its affiliates, Audi and Porshe, for selling cars equipped with illegal “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests and then trying to cover up the scam.
When the investigation was getting under way in late 2015, numerous employees, tipped off by a senior in-house lawyer in Germany, allegedly destroyed incriminating documents, the complaints say.
The lawsuits allege this cover-up was orchestrated and approved at the highest levels of the company, including former CEO Martin Winterkorn, who resigned shortly after the automaker admitted to fitting 11 million vehicles worldwide with the illegal software.
The New York complaint also connects Volkswagen’s current CEO, Matthias Müller, to the scandal for the first time.
“The allegations against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche reveal a culture of deeply-rooted corporate arrogance, combined with a conscious disregard for the rule of law and the protection of public health and the environment,” New York state attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman said in a statement.
A Volkswagen spokeswoman told the New York Times Müller was not involved in any wrongdoing. “There is no credible evidence to support the allegation regarding Matthias Müller,” Jeannine Ginivan said in an emailed statement. “It does not bear scrutiny.”
The states’ lawsuits seek hundreds of millions in penalties from VW, in addition to the $14.7 billion VW agreed to pay in two settlements with the federal government announced late last month.