By on March 17, 2017

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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.”

[Image: Volkswagen]

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15 Comments on “In an Odd Twist, German Authorities Raid Volkswagen’s Internal Investigator...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I must say, the German government is impressing me with its zeal in this case. Most people thought it would just roll over, considering its vested interest in the company.

    • 0 avatar

      The American Government, whether at the elected/representative level, regulatory level, law-enforcement levels (executive branch and judiciary), is/are hopelessly corrupt compared to similar levels in countries such as Germany.

      Just look at what Eric Placeholder at DOJ *failed* to do under the Obama Administration for much of 8 years, or what SEC Chief Mary Jo White *failed* to do (or her predecessor, Mary Schapiro).

      God only knows how bad Trump appointees will be based on recent history.

      Fear the American Future.

    • 0 avatar

      I was thinking the same thing. It’s heartening to see a government not just take a megacorp’s word for it that their investigation is thorough.

      The closest parallel I can think of is South Korea, where Samsung (an even bigger part of the economy) is finding the government has teeth there, as well.

  • avatar

    I’m so glad DieselGate is so far in VW’s rearview mirror that nobody even remembers it. Wait, what scandal? I think I can recall…it was just a faint whisper by someone unimportant. Nothing to see here, folks.

    Nothing but blue sky’s ahead!

  • avatar

    Of course, since VW swore they turned everything over to the lawyers, and the lawyers swore they passed it all on to the investigators, the raid shouldn’t have actually found anything relevant… right?

    It’s not surprising that the Germans have about as much faith in VW’s internal investigation as the DoJ did. I imagine all the authorities involved simply dumped it in the trash can… it would have been a little bit more credible had VW ACTUALLY fired or disciplined some additional employees as a result of the investigation. Instead, we were treated to the remarkable coincidence that everybody that had already been fired/disciplined/charged exactly lined up with everybody at fault.

    How convenient!

  • avatar

    Honest question. How does the excess pollution that all the tainted diesel cars will make compare to the difference in pollution between a Chinese auto factory and a U.S. EPA regulated auto factory? If anyone knows.

    • 0 avatar

      Given that Diesel cars may be on the road for fifteen years or more, I’m sure the on-road pollution is a larger issue. Even if it isn’t, though, there’s three things to consider:

      1) You should put “EPA” in quotes now, I think, given the management and budget changes about to occur,
      2) China has *serious issues* with air pollution. Like, really really bad. They aren’t letting this stuff slide either, they’d like to have their citizens not die and actually be able to drive to work and the like.
      3) Pollution is both a local and global issue. Plants can often centralize their pollution management because everything is centralized and contained. Diesel emissions will pollute every city and neighbourhood the vehicles are in, in a wide, general area, and local geography (think, LA) may prevent the particulate matter from being able to disperse effectively, making the issue even worse.

      • 0 avatar

        LA county is dead serious about air pollution. no more 2 stroke engines of any kind. all diesel tractors must be clean air certified. ships at the port of LA and long beach get plugged in to power at the dock so they can shut their engines off. gas stations have vapor recovery when fuel is delivered, and when fuel is pumped into cars. motorcycles and scooters now have catalysts, fuel injection, and at least one O2 sensor. everything is “low VOC”…

        but compared to pictures from the 60s/70s, the air is super clean. and you can still drive a car from 1975 or before with no smog.

        whats kind of telling to ME, is that i replaced a broken carb on a 1995 yamaha xt225 dualsport with a used carb bought off ebay from somewhere back east. it was mostly identical. popped it on, fired it up and the damn thing ran BETTER than NEW.

        no low idle, no stumbling off idle, no long choke warm up times. a minute of choke, take it off choke, smooth idle, ride.

        • 0 avatar

          What is that brown stuff that hangs around at 5pm and blots out the view?
          Still I believe the ” clouds” of pollution have disappeared, since I was there

          • 0 avatar



            it’s not as bad as it used to be, but it’s far from gone.

            “Honest question. How does the excess pollution that all the tainted diesel cars will make compare to the difference in pollution between a Chinese auto factory and a U.S. EPA regulated auto factory?”

            red herring. localized pollution (meaning, not CO2) in China doesn’t affect the US. Dieselgate (and CARB) are all about oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and ground level ozone, which form smog and are potent soft-tissue irritants. They don’t “travel,” both O3 and NOx are fairly unstable and break down pretty quickly. The problem is in areas like the SoCal basin and Chinese cities is that they’re being pumped into the air far faster than it can break down, and there’s no prevailing wind to carry it away so it collects there and makes people miserable.

          • 0 avatar

            Believe it or not, the US has been affected by Chinese pollution more than once and like you I am discounting CO2.

            The NWS (National Weather Service) and NASA have recorded Chinese pollution crossing the Pacific Ocean both under visible light and other detection methods. While thinned out by the time it reaches US shores, it is still dense enough to be visible in satellite views.

            That said, I recommend doing a little research on what diesel fumes have done to some of this worlds classic structures; buildings raised hundreds of years ago and have become iconic landmarks of old-world Europe. There’s a reason so many ancient cities are banning the use of petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles from city centers. Those edifices are beginning to crumble in the same way that the Sphinx lost its nose… eaten away by “acid rain.”

            But… With VW actively avoiding regulations rather than trying to work within them, I see the company under increasing pressure to completely abandon the ICE and consider technologies that maybe nobody else has thought about outside of science fiction. We may well need to consider “batteries” that need no recharging and can offer as much as 50 years of usable operational life.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          To meet emissions, my old KLR 650 had the pilot jet set really lean. Then they put a cover over the adjustment screw. I drilled out the cover, adjusted it and in ran much better (no popping on decel, flat spots).

          The new ones are fuel injected however and run much better on the whole. You do give up that Soviet tractor simplicity though.

      • 0 avatar

        I can’t see a common rail VW staying on the road for 15 years in the U.S. If the TDI cheating was never discovered, I think Murilee would start to see a lot of TDIs in junkyards prematurely.

        With the potential of out-of-warranty DPF, HPFP, Adblue heater, exhaust flap failure, etc., owners would probably dump them like a Malaise-era GM product once they get a quote to fix it.

  • avatar

    “impartial internal investigator”

    Aren’t we all realistic enough by now to realize that there’s no such thing, and that Jones Day was in fact obligated to act to protect VW?

    This action is as unsurprising as the sun rising in the east.

  • avatar

    I have this feeling that VW is going to wish it had taken FCA up on its offer of a partnership.
    Despite what people have been saying, FCA’s engineering has been pretty solid as long as they stay away from the superpowered engines. The 2.5L Tigershark is a surprisingly stout engine when the gearing is right.

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