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VW loses bid to block investigators

July 6, 2018

German carmaker Volkswagen has lost a legal challenge to prevent prosecutors from examining unpublished documents about its pollution scandal. The files in question had been seized from a US law firm.

VW exhaust pipes
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Stratenschulte

Germany's top court ruled Friday that files related to Volkswagen's emissions-cheating scandal and seized from a US law firm may be reviewed by prosecutors.

The decision means that the information from the files may be made public as part of any criminal proceedings against the carmaker, thus providing more ammunition for shareholders and car owners seeking damages.

Shortly after the pollution scandal broke in September 2015, VW hired law firm Jones Day and advisory firm Deloitte to investigate the issue and look at who was responsible. But the carmaker never published the findings of the Jones Day probe.

Getting closer to the truth?

Prosecutors searched the Munich offices of Jones Day in March 2017 in connection with a fraud probe related to 3.0-liter diesel engines made by VW's Audi brand.

Friday's dismissal of Volkswagen's legal challenge by the Federal Constitutional Court is another blow to the automaker.

Although lawyers enjoy some protection from raids in Germany, the court said the seizure of the documents did not infringe on VW's right to a fair legal process. The judges argued that as a US firm, Jones Day could not ask for protection of the German Basic Law and that the lawyers, who had complained, were not personally affected.

Audi offices raided as diesel cars face driving ban

hg/jd (Reuters, dpa)