Volkswagen Group's former CEO, Martin Winterkorn, approved a plan to disclose only partial information on the automaker’s software rigging to U.S. authorities seven weeks before the scandal broke last September, Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported, citing newly uncovered documents.
On July 28, 2015, Winterkorn signed off on talking points prepared ahead of an informal meeting with regulators in the U.S., at which VW officials would "partially" disclose details about diesel software that cheated on emissions, the report cited the documents as showing.
At the meeting, which took place on Aug. 5, VW employees acknowledged that emissions didn't meet U.S. standards and that engineers were working to repair it, Bild said.
Seven weeks later, U.S. authorities revealed that VW had flouted environmental regulations, plunging the carmaker into the worst crisis in its history. Winterkorn, who stepped down soon after the revelations, is the subject of a probe seeking to find out whether management was too slow to tell investors about the potential cost of the diesel-emissions scandal.
Volkswagen spokesman Eric Felber said the company will not comment on an ongoing investigation. Felix Doerr, a lawyer for Winterkorn, didn't immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on the report.
VW has said Winterkorn was present at a meeting in July 2015 in which the diesel situation was a topic on the "periphery" of the gathering.
Bild also reported that several VW engineers were offered suspended sentences and fines in exchange for confessions. They declined the overture because they were afraid they would lose their VW legal insurance.
Klaus Ziehe, a spokesman for the Brunswick prosecutors investigating VW, declined to comment.
German supplier Robert Bosch, which provided VW with software, has also suspended several employees as a result of the investigations, Bild reported.
Bosch didn't immediately respond to a call seeking comment.