Former VW CEO Ferdinand Piech is refusing to testify in a German investigation of the government's role in the diesel emissions scandal following recently publicized comments that caused friction between he and his former company.

It was recently reported that Piech told his successor, Martin Winterkorn, of emissions cheats before Winterkorn admits to having known about the scandal. As a result, VW threatened legal action against Piech and fervently denied the report.

That report was filed by the German press and was allegedly based on testimony Piech gave to Jones Day, the law firm conducting VW's internal investigation.

"These comments were solely directed at the inquirers of Jones Day and the prosecutors respectively," said Gerhard Strate, Piech's lawyer, in a statement. "They were not directed at the public media," adding that Piech will not "comment in public on what is being circulated as the alleged content of the questioning."

Those in charge of the investigation have said that Piech's testimony is important and have criticized the former CEO for refusing, saying that it "damages the (VW) brand and the entire German auto industry."

[source: Automotive News ]