By on January 8, 2016

Matthias Müller

The New York Times says U.S. states attorneys general are accusing Volkswagen from withholding critical documents from their investigations into the automaker’s admission that more than 500,000 cars and SUVs in the U.S. were illegally polluting.

The report says that Volkswagen is citing a notoriously strict German law that protects data and documents from investigations overseas, and that their own investigations have stalled — similar to what federal regulators said when they filed a lawsuit against the automaker on Monday seeking billions.

Volkswagen didn’t comment on the report.

The New York Times said that states attorneys general such as New York’s Eric Schneiderman have said that their limited information is keeping them from identifying the culprits at Volkswagen who may have known about the cheating devices.

“Our patience with Volkswagen is wearing thin,” Schneiderman told the New York Times. “Volkswagen’s cooperation with the state’s investigation has been spotty — and frankly, more of the kind one expects from a company in denial than one seeking to leave behind a culture of admitted deception.”

Schneiderman isn’t alone.

“I find it frustrating that, despite public statements professing cooperation and an expressed desire to resolve the various investigations that it faces following its calculated deception, Volkswagen is, in fact, resisting cooperation by citing German law,” Connecticut’s attorney general George Jepsen told the New York Times. “We will seek to use any means available to us to conduct a thorough investigation.”

Volkswagen faces dozens — if not hundreds — of lawsuits relating to its illegal “defeat device” that it installed on diesel cars beginning in 2009. In a filing by the Justice Department on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday, officials from the environmental agency said Volkswagen hadn’t yet proposed a viable solution to fixing its cars.

On Thursday, a German newspaper said Volkswagen was preparing to buy back more than 100,000 cars in the U.S. — presumably older models that can’t be fixed.

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29 Comments on “Report: Volkswagen Withholding Documents from US States’ Lawsuits...”


  • avatar

    VOLKSWAGON is the reason we have no snow in NYC and it was 70° during Christmas.

    VW owners should be forced into SRT products which are far more environmentally friendly.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Yes exactly, because of VW, Cows have been put off their feed, People are eating the wrong foods. Where does it end?

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      LOL.
      Yup…VW should be held to the environmental gold standards like Chrysler. Now that is a green company.

      And I am stunned that there is stalling going on!
      The German government isn’t open!?? They should be held to the same open standards the USA government is!

      This government would NEVER allow for any stalling when the releasing of important documents required for investigations.
      No way.
      I can’t think of a single instance where this government stood by when information needed for investigations was not forthcoming.
      Not this government.
      This is the most open government we have ever had.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    So US attorneys think that they should be able to ride roughshod over German laws. Given the stellar reputation of the American legal system I suppose this is only natural.

    I’m not saying that VW aren’t playing fast and loose.

    • 0 avatar

      Two choices here: Do business in the US and comply with our laws, or, do not do business in the US.

      VW made their choice a long time ago. Nobody here cares about the law in Germany. I don’t and you shouldn’t. VW should comply or start talking to their US executives through federal prison bars.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Yes they will pull out of Chattanooga, close down their dealerships. People in the Southern States of the US will be pleased

      • 0 avatar
        trueorange

        Exactly. Pretty obvious, don’t follow the regulations other major manufacturers follow then you get punished accordingly. I just started an account (after many years of reading) to comment my golly, how many people did VW encourage to comment on this article as ‘pro falsify emission tests’ – lol! Ridiculous. If you want to make a polluting, low MPG vehicle, there’s a tax for that too, an extra 1,000 bucks for new cars if I recall…

      • 0 avatar
        John

        WhiskeyRiver nailed it.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        yes! and everybody here is fairly prosecuted!
        Nobody gets breaks.
        From the heads of the Veterans Admin to the Wall street/Bankers/Government officials who stated the whole housing/financial bubbles. They all got brought before the law.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      You know Greg, if you don’t like the laws in the United States, Ammon Bundy could sure use your support in Oregon holding on to that gift shop at a bird sanctuary.

      I’ve ready it is a cushy gig. Law enforcement at all levels don’t care, you come and go as you please, you can bring your wife and kids as human shields, and beg for donation money online that you then waste on eating at restaurants, smokes, and getting drunk.

      Down with the tyranny!!!

  • avatar
    JohnTT

    I am sure that U.S. laws protect American companies doing business in other countries as well.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “The report says that Volkswagen is citing a notoriously strict German law that protects data and documents from investigations overseas”

    If my understanding is correct, the US is more of the outlier. The US has a sort of kitchen sink approach to discovery — if it might be relevant, then you have to provide an item, even though nobody specifically asked for it — while the Europeans require specific justifications for requested items and implicitly expect that some due diligence has been performed that would justify making the request.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Other than the opportunity to pander to constituents and perhaps wet their state’s beaks, what standing do the individual states have in this case? Isn’t this a federal issue?

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      No, it isn’t.

      Each state has individual consumer laws, consumers were clearly defrauded (lets remember, VW has confessed that the cars don’t meet standards). Consumers bought these cars, in some cases getting even federal clean air tax credits, on the representation that they were efficient, and less polluting. That my friend, is fraud.

      Consumer protection then is at a state level.

      What happens is the states will band together (likely, if they all agree) in a single class-action to simplify things. Some states may go it alone.

      This isn’t anything new. When I was working for a major computer hardware maker in the 90’s I had federal agents show up at my home with a subpoena from the federal government to give a deposition on activity I may know about with Microsoft.

      When I was deposed it included the federal government, and eight different state attorney generals. The states were perusing their own actions under their laws in representation of their citizens.

      Hope that helps.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        VW is a non US entity and trying to get trade secrets from it, causes many problems internationally

        • 0 avatar
          NickS

          Incriminating emails and trade secrets are not an either or. Courts know how to handle the distinction between the two, where appropriate. Unless you consider deception as some type of “trade secret”.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Getting that information, is the hard part, it would require the cooperation of the German legal system and VW could counter sue, that trade secrets would be exposed

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            What’s VW’s “trade secrets”? How to build sh!tty cars while committing grand larceny??

  • avatar
    brn

    “Volkswagen didn’t comment on the report.”

    This is a good step for VW. Before now, they’d comment with obvious lies. Keeping their trap shut is an improvement.

  • avatar
    NickS

    This story is not over yet. A lot will depend on the German prosecutors. If they do a decent job of pursuing the 1500 hard drives worth of evidence they got, they can easily cooperate with their counterparts in the US. Prosecutors are subject to local pressures and such but they also understand that what goes around comes around.

    My reading of this is that VW is doing their level best to make sure no senior execs are exposed legally. This stonewalling will cost the company a lot more than cooperating with the Americans.

    And despite the fact that Lower Saxony is one of the bigger shareholders, they won’t rollover to protect Winterkorn at the risk of a serious hit to the bottom line, loss of jobs etc. Shareholders in general care exactly zero about protecting their execs from prosecution.

    To say nothing of the political dimension. Some discussions must be taking place at that level as well.

    The US authorities are not generally out to get VW as some sort of a villain (even though VW seems to have done everything a villain under suspicion does). VW is not a major player here, and besides it’s “only” 0.6 million vehicles here. The US has no interest in wiping out VW financially either.

    I am curious if the TN AG is in this group of state AGs seeking more cooperation as well.

  • avatar
    NickS

    And let’s not forget the facts on the ground for VW here in the US, as we speak:

    – cars in the wild are continuing to exceed emissions
    – no fix proposed or approved yet, no buy-back or other remedial either
    – tons of lawsuits from everyone and their dog

    And not very much cooperation with the authorities.

    And their PR is in desperate need of a reset. Maybe hire the kardashians to run some interference.

    • 0 avatar
      philipwitak

      in all seriousness – has anyone heard anything about a few federal lawmakers of a certain persuasion actually taking steps to protect vw by preventing lawsuits originating from it’s united states customers?

      i saw a single reference recently, but cannot recall where.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    VW is trying to cover for their top management, pure and simple.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    VW should get spanked just as hard as Ford in the 1980s, for the 23 million cars and trucks that could jump from Park to Reverse.
    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/automotive-lawsuit-history-unearthed-junkyard-style-the-ford-park-to-reverse-warning-label/

    The VW warning label might read: “Drive only at steady speeds on flat straight roads or excess exhaust emissions may occur. Failure to follow these procedures could result in lung injury”.

    Remember that those Fords actually killed people.


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