VW says prosecutors’ search of law firm the OEM commissioned is ‘unacceptable’

17 March 2017

17 March 2017

Further to the raid at Audi that commenced on Wednesday, German prosecutors have extended their investigations to Jones Day, the US law firm that Volkswagen (VW) commissioned itself to conduct an internal investigation to identify those responsible for the emissions scandal. VW has issued a statement in response, stating: ′We consider the action of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Munich to be unacceptable in every respect.’  

VW has given prosecutors a clear mandate and extensive authority with the aim of their investigations being in line with those of Jones Day and hence why the investigation into the law firm itself has irked the carmaker. The full statement by Volkswagen reads: ′We consider the action of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Munich to be unacceptable in every respect. In our opinion, a search carried out on the premises of a law firm which has been instructed by a company is a clear breach of the principles of the rule of law laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure. This has also been expressly confirmed by the Federal Constitutional Court in the case of another law firm.″¯We will take all the action at our disposal against these proceedings.’ 

′In our opinion the search of a law firm mandated by a company contravenes the principles of the code of criminal procedure,’ VW spokesman Eric Felber reiterated. 

Law professor Werner Beulke told Reuters that ′In northern German Federal states, prosecutors are barred from searching law firms but there is no nationwide ruling on the matter from Germany’s Federal Court of Justice, leaving an opening for southern Bavarian prosecutors to search VW’s law firm.’ 

Jones Day was commissioned by VW to conduct the internal investigation shortly after the scandal broke in September 2015. Although full findings have never been released, the US Department of Justice, with which VW reached a $4.3 billion settlement in January, was provided with a summary.