Volkswagen board member Olaf Lies believes that some of the German automaker’s staff “acted criminally,” the Guardian reports, comments that came after the company admitted 11 million of its cars have software designed to cheat emissions tests.
Lies claims that the board was only informed about the problem just before it was announced to the media, even though it had been known about in the U.S. for over a year.
“Those people who allowed this to happen, or who made the decision to install this software, they acted criminally,” Lies told BBC’s Newsnight. “They must take personal responsibility. It’s about finding out who was responsible, who knew about it and when they found out.”
Lies is the economy minister of Lower Saxony, a German state with a 20% stake in the company. Lies sits on the board along with the state’s prime minister, Stephan Weil.
Former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, who resigned last week amid the scandal, is currently being investigated, among others who may have known about the cheating. German law makes it easier for prosecutors there to charge individuals at large corporations for illegal activity compared to the U.S.