At some point, a scandal grows so big that investigations begin to overlap. When the scope widens even more, investigators suddenly begin investigating each other.
That’s the current situation in the Fatherland, where American law firm Jones Day recently had its offices raided at the request of German authorities in hot pursuit of executive skulduggery. Jones Day, of course, is the internal investigator hired by VW to probe the shady dealings that led to the diesel emissions scandal.
What started with unusual emissions readings at a West Virginia university now feels a lot like The Departed.
The New York Times reports that authorities searched the firm’s offices on Wednesday. Volkswagen confirmed the raid, which came at the same time as similar searches targeting the head offices of Volkswagen and Audi.
Having lawmen snoop through the files of your impartial investigator is bad PR for VW, and it sure doesn’t reflect well on Jones Day. The raid suggests that the firm’s comb is not as fine-toothed as authorities would like.
Ken Heidenreich, spokesman for prosecutors in the city of Munich, said authorities seized electronic data during their visit.
For months, German prosecutors have sought to uncover evidence of alleged widespread knowledge of the rigged diesel engines among the company’s upper ranks. One ex-employee even fingered Audi CEO Rupert Stadler in a labor court appearance. Ulrich Weiss, the automaker’s former engine development chief, claims to possess a document proving both Stadler’s knowledge of the deception, and that Weiss was ordered by company brass to install emissions-cheating engines in Hong Kong-bound Audi Q7 vehicles.
Jones Day hasn’t commented on the raid, but VW came out swinging. In a statement, the automaker called the search “a clear breach of the principles of the rule of law.” VW promised to “take all the action at our disposal against these proceedings.”