For months, Volkswagen has promised the release of an internal investigation into the causes of Dieselgate, perhaps the automaker’s worst crisis in its near-80-year history. Sunday, though, the automaker reversed itself. Citing an “unacceptable risks” to the company and the strong objections of its attorneys, VW has decided not to release the results of the internal investigation that is being conducted by the American law firm Jones Day.
Even as the company rejected going public with the results, its investigators are continuing to hunt for the group of engineers that is believed to have been responsible for the scandal. Now, seven months after the automaker was caught red-handed with its admission of rigging diesel emissions test results, there is no clear indication that any progress has been made seeking the cadre of engineers responsible for Dieselgate. Indeed, there are still many interviews planned, and there are no clear signs of culpability.
And, the full report, now expected sometime in the fourth quarter of this year, may be superseded by the actions of U.S. criminal investigators could clarify this issue once and for all, pushing its information into the background.
The decision on the VW internal probe came Friday when VW’s supervisory board met to sign off on the company’s financials. The figures included an $18 billion charge to cover the costs of Dieselgate. The $18 billion charge was in addition to the $7.3 billion that was set aside initially to cover costs that grew from the scandal in the third quarter. The board meeting was about more than the 2015 financial reports. At the meeting, the executives were briefed on the status of the investigation.
The decision to withhold the report’s release was made, according to reports published on Sunday, following a settlement on the 500,000 diesel cars that were at the heart of Dieselgate. Friday, negotiators announced a breakthrough whereby VW agreed to buy back the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder VWs involved in the scandal. About 100,000 six-cylinder diesel luxury cars and SUVs are not covered by the agreement. The deal may play a huge role in the decision on release of the investigation findings, hinted Wolfgang Porsche, a VW board director.
Speaking to reporters in Germany, he said that publishing “a preliminary report would not only endanger the complex and confidential settlement talks … it would also have a negative effect on ongoing questioned as individuals who have yet to be questioned could align their statements with the contents of the report. We must avoid this.” Porsche, a scion of the founding family of the automaker, emphasized that “As soon as a full settlement can be achieved with the Department of Justice, a settlement of the facts of this matter will be made public in the U.S. at that time.”