May 8, 2018 / 9:20 AM / 2 months ago

New Volkswagen CEO testified in United States on emissions scandal - report

BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) Chief Executive Herbert Diess travelled to the United States last week to testify to authorities there about the carmaker’s emissions scandal, German newspaper Bild reported on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Herbert Diess, Volkswagen's new CEO, speaks at a Volkswagen Group's media event ahead of the Beijing Auto Show in Beijing, China April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

At the meeting, which Bild said took place around May 1, Diess spoke with representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the daily newspaper reported, without citing the source of the information.

Diess, who joined Volkswagen in July 2015, about two months before the “Dieselgate” scandal broke, was accompanied by Larry Thompson, the U.S. monitor appointed last year to oversee reforms at the German group, the newspaper said.

FILE PHOTO: Herbert Diess, Volkswagen's new CEO, poses during the Volkswagen Group's annual general meeting in Berlin, Germany, May 3, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt/File Photo

VW declined comment on the report.

A person familiar with the matter confirmed that Diess and Thompson had travelled to the U.S. recently for talks with relevant authorities, without being more specific.

A second source said Diess had talks with U.S. authorities several months ago and denied that a meeting around May 1 had taken place.

Last week, the U.S. disclosed criminal charges against former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, accusing him of conspiring to cover up the emissions manipulations.

They subsequently issued an arrest warrant against Winterkorn, 70, who resigned days after “Dieselgate” broke in September 2015.

Winterkorn in January 2017 told German lawmakers he had not been informed of the cheating early, and would have halted it had he been aware.

The indictment against Winterkorn was filed by the DoJ in secret on March 14, one month before Diess replaced former CEO Matthias Mueller at the helm of Europe’s largest automaker.

Bloomberg reported on Monday that Diess was granted a rare safe-passage deal by the United States, allowing the former BMW (BMWG.DE) executive to travel freely without risk of being arrested in connection with the emissions investigation.

A source close to VW said there was nothing unusual about the travel arrangements for Diess. VW declined comment.

Reporting by Andreas Cremer and Jan Schwartz; Editing by Keith Weir and Susan Fenton

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