According to reports from the New York Times and Reuters, the Volkswagen Group is refusing to turn over e-mails and correspondence from its top executives to state investigators across the US, citing German privacy laws.
Attorneys general from Connecticut and New York told the two news outlets that they were outraged with Volkswagen’s reluctance to comply fully with their investigations. The two AGs are part of a larger group of 48 top state lawyers, which has launched a probe into Volkswagen’s defeat device scandal. (The two states who are not participating in the civil investigation represent California and Texas and are “conducting their own inquiries,” according to the New York Times.)
The scandal broke open in September when the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation accusing Volkswagen of selling 580,000 diesel vehicles with illegal software installed on them to goose results on federally mandated emissions tests.
According to Reuters, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said that “despite public statements professing cooperation … Volkswagen is, in fact, resisting cooperation by citing German law.” To the New York Times, New York’s attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman said “Our patience with Volkswagen is wearing thin. Volkswagen’s cooperation with the states’ 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.”
The attorney’s frustration comes after Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen Group’s CEO at the time the scandal broke, told the public, “I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public.” Matthias Müller, who took Winterkorn’s position after he resigned, also said in a statement at the time, “My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group—by leaving no stone unturned and with maximum transparency, as well as drawing the right conclusions from the current situation.”
Ars contacted Volkswagen for comment but has not heard back. We will update this post if we do.
According to the New York Times, German authorities were allowed to raid Volkswagen’s headquarters in their own investigation of the company’s actions. Authorities there also noted that Volkswagen has generally been cooperative with their investigations. Still, that information may not be passed to American investigators, as Germany’s privacy laws are generally stricter than those in the US.