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VW Using German Privacy Law to Thwart US Investigators: Officials

Jan. 8, 2016
'Our patience is wearing thin,' said New York's attorney general.

NEW YORK—Volkswagen has been uncooperative with U.S. states probing its emissions-cheating technology, citing German privacy law in refusing to share documents, two prosecutors said Friday.

The German auto giant has fallen far short of its public pledges of cooperation, said sharply worded statements from the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut, who are leading a VW probe by more than 40 states in parallel with an ongoing federal investigation.

"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," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

"It has been slow to produce documents from its U.S. files, it has sought to delay responses until it completes its 'independent investigation' several months from now, and it has failed to pursue every avenue to overcome the obstacles it says that German privacy law presents to turning over emails from its executives' files in Germany. Our patience with Volkswagen is wearing thin."

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, one of six state officials leading the probe, said the states will "seek to use any means available to us" to hold Volkswagen accountable.

"I find it frustrating that, despite public statements professing cooperation and an expressed desire to resolve the various investigations that it faces following its calculated deception, Volkswagen is, in fact, resisting cooperation by citing German law," Jepsen said.

The statements come on the heels of a lawsuit filed Monday by the U.S. Department of Justice that seeks more than $20 billion in damages and said its probe was "impeded and obstructed by material omissions and misleading information provided by VW."

Volkswagen has repeatedly apologized for the scandal in which it admitted installing emissions-cheating technology on more than 11 million diesel engines worldwide, in vehicles from model years 2009 through 2015.

VW did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2016

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