Volkswagen Apparently Needs More Nannies to Avoid Acting Up
It’s hard not to imagine Volkswagen as a tempestuous child, prone to mischief and currently on a “time out” after getting caught lobbing spitballs in class. The thought softens the reality of a massive corporate deception that polluted the air and led to tens of billions of dollars in penalties.
As it turns out, serving as Volkswagen’s nanny is exhaustive work. After the U.S. government ordered a monitor to keep an eye on the automaker as part of its wildly expensive settlement, the monitor feels the need to triple his staff.
Larry Thompson, a lawyer at Finch McCranie LLP and a former deputy attorney general, was tasked earlier this year with providing oversight to the company for a period of three years. His marching orders come straight from the Justice Department. As part of the job, Thompson and staff must monitor how well Volkswagen is complying with its environmental penance, with the review of internal documents being just one part of the task.
Another part involves interviewing VW employees to get a clearer picture of the company’s operations and compliance processes. The DOJ wants to ensure VW employees will be able to spot and report any environmental trickery in the future.
It’s too much work, Thompson claims. According to Bloomberg, Thompson wants to triple his staff to 60 persons. Already, Jonny Frank of forensic accounting firm StoneTurn Group has been brought on to work as his deputy. (Frank serves as a monitor at Deutsche Bank AG.)
“My first impression is that the company is taking this very seriously,” Thompson told media at VW’s Wolfsburg headquarters yesterday. “The rank and file of VW workers, they really feel that they’ve been let down by the company. If we can help this company to become better, then this is well worth my time.”
For now, Thompson’s oversight covers all 12 brands in the Volkswagen Group stable — a broad scope that could shrink over time. The team recently held a five-day “boot camp” with VW managers to bring itself up to speed. Also on the team’s radar is the company’s outside counsel and associated data, though ongoing investigations could keep some information tantalizingly out of reach.
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