Frankfurt, Germany — Volkswagen has confirmed chief financial officer Hans Dieter Poetsch will become board chairman as the automaker faces a scandal over cars that were equipped to cheat on U.S. government emissions tests.
Poetsch, 64, has been the company’s CFO since 2003. The company said he would be appointed to the board and then elected chairman.
The board said in a statement Thursday that it was postponing a special shareholders’ meeting slated for Nov. 9. It said that an investigation into the firm’s conduct carried out by law firm Jones Day will take “at least several months” and would not be completed for the meeting.
That meant the company would not be ready to provide “well-founded” answers to shareholders’ questions.
The decisions were made during seven hours of “intense discussions” at a board meeting on Wednesday evening, the statement said.
Volkswagen also named the members of a five-member board committee that is to monitor the progress of the investigation into how cars were equipped with software that turned on emission controls during official testing but turned them off them during ordinary driving.
The committee will be headed by the current acting board chairman, Berthold Huber. Huber is the former head of the IG Metall industrial workers’ union.
Meanwhile, prosecutors in Braunschweig issued a statement seeking to clarify their investigation into what possible role former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn played in the scandal.
About a dozen criminal complaints have been filed by citizens, and one by VW itself, as allowed under German law. Based upon those complaints the prosecutors said Monday they had opened an investigation.
They said it would concentrate on the suspicion of fraud committed through the sale of vehicles with manipulated emissions data, and aimed to determine who was responsible.
On Thursday, however, they said there had been a “misunderstanding” by some and said they did not currently have any evidence against Winterkorn, but that he had been named in the investigation as the head of Volkswagen.
They said their initial release mistakenly said it was an “investigation against Prof. Dr. Winterkorn.”
“The goal of the investigation is in particular to clarify responsibility,” the prosecutors’ office said.
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