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May 18, 2017—Even after Volkswagen pleaded guilty to a nine-year conspiracy to dupe regulators and consumers, the carmaker has continued to insist that top executives played no role in the emissions fraud, the Boston Globe reports.

But internal company emails and memos, which were reviewed by The New York Times, indicate that engineers wanted approval from top managers to deploy the illegal software almost from the beginning, with regular status reports noting that high-level signoff was necessary.

The emissions issue was the main agenda for a 2007 meeting attended by Matthias Mueller, the current chief executive, who was then Volkswagen’s head of product planning, as well as Martin Winterkorn, the chief executive at the time. A presentation for the meeting detailed plans to conceal excess emissions of diesel cars in the United States, including the so-called defeat device at the center of the crime.

Volkswagen said there was no evidence that either executive saw the presentation. An internal summary of the meeting prepared shortly after it took place made no mention of the illegal software. Mueller and Winterkorn have denied wrongdoing.

“The Volkswagen Group is aware of the documents,” the company said in a statement, “and they do not support the inference that Matthias Mueller knew about efforts to develop and use the defeat device.”

 

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