By on December 5, 2016

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Volkswagen appears to be suiting up for an impending battle. The road has been a long and difficult, but the diesel emissions scandal seems as if it’s about to begin its third and final act.

Dozens of German Volkswagen AG officials have hired criminal defense lawyers as the United States Department of Justice elevates its investigation into the company. U.S. authorities have traveled across the Atlantic to conduct additional interviews with managers and gather further evidence on VW’s plot to elude America’s emission regulations. 

Bloomberg reports:

The U.S. has already helped broker a civil settlement that will cost the Wolfsburg, Germany, company more than $16 billion in fines and penalties. The Justice Department, characterizing the diesel cheating as a 10-year conspiracy to deceive environmental officials, has said it will pursue criminal charges against not only the company but also individuals.

Volkswagen had hoped to have everything concluded before the Obama administration left office, but with the probe just ramping up, it looks like that won’t be possible. After the regime change, the proceedings will pass onto the Trump directorate, which has stated its clear interest to name Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general. Sessions, a former federal prosecutor from Alabama, has said he would not back down from charging a major company and its leadership if there was any evidence of criminal activity.

While the United States can certainly charge individuals, getting those executives to stand trial in the states could be extremely difficult — German citizens cannot be extradited from their home country. Right now, the identity of those executives is a matter of speculation. In September, prosecutors obtained a guilty plea and cooperation from a former VW engineer who reported directly to company executives. Outside of that lone engineer, it isn’t obvious who, if anyone, might also face charges.

Volkswagen has asserted that management had no knowledge of the choice to implement the emission-cheating software. Even former company CEO Martin Winterkorn, who left as a direct result of the scandal in 2015, took responsibility for the issue while denying any personal wrongdoing or involvement.

[Image: Volkswagen of America]

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8 Comments on “Volkswagen Execs Hiring Defense Lawyers En Masse as U.S. Authorities Snoop in Germany...”

  • avatar

    As well as having emissions test fakery the EA189 diesel engines are also criminally unreliable. VW should be prosecuted for foisting them on the unaware public that are still buying into the myth of German reliability

  • avatar

    I don’t know how far this is taken before it gets to the point of “enough is enough”. Forgetting the environmental impact for a moment, some people who may end up getting a raw deal here will likely be gas vw vehicle owners(like me). Our depreciation has been accelerated by this situation. We’re not getting a buy out or any type of compensation. One part of me wants VW to be held liable for this, but eventually we’re going to get to the point where “examples being made” harms every day workers at VAG and those who purchased their non affected products. I don’t know where the line is that makes that more important than getting a chunk of flesh.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not aware of the diesel scandal affecting gasoline power resale values, and VW resale values have never been great. Sounds like you should contact the firm representing the TDI owners; maybe they would be interested in starting another class action suit.

    • 0 avatar

      I bought an ’06 Beetle TDI last year and as soon as the scandal broke the value dropped by $1000. The only thing I’ve received out of it is advertisements from other manufacturers trying to woo VW customers. It would be nice if I get something out of it, but I figure that’s wishing for blood from a stone.

  • avatar

    Perry Mason, call your office.

  • avatar

    The prices for my new gas VWs has not plummeted. The 2014 models we owned with the 1.8T engines were insanely reliable up to 45 K miles before trading them in. Zero recalls (for the 14’s we had). Now we have 3 2016s 2 Jettas (1.8T and 1.4T) and a GTI. The Jettas are performing beautifully with the 1.4T returning over 40MPG highway on a regular basis and the GTI has had 1 recall for a fuel suction pump. We are incredibly happy with the cars and are sold on the brand.

  • avatar

    Being an Alabamian, I really doubt Sessions is going to go after VW execs with any real gusto. His priorities will be rolling back Roe v. Wade, trying to subvert the voting rights act, and bringing free speech cases forward that adhere to his definition of it (flag burning bad, prayer in schools good.)

    But – I have my buyback scheduled for Dec. 21. See ya later, fellas.

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