Volkswagen was planning to publish the final report on the external investigation done by U.S. law firm Jones Day. But in a move that surprised no one, Volkswagen has decided not to publish it.
"I’m aware that some of you wish for greater transparency. Often the publishing of a full report is demanded. To be clear: there is no written final report from Jones Day, nor will there be. I ask for your understanding that for legal reasons Volkswagen is prevented from publishing any such report," said VW Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch at the company's annual general meeting.
Poetsch said Volkswagen would risk “massive fines" if the report was published. While Volkswagen has settled with the U.S. over the scandal, there are a number of civil cases against the company and other investigations ongoing.
It should be noted Volkswagen used this same excuse last April when it announced that it would not publish the preliminary findings of its internal investigation.
Unsurprisingly, this move has gotten a lot of heat from investors and government officials.
Christian Strenger, a shareholder rights advocate, and German corporate governance expert said Volkswagen's management and directors need to "put all their cards on the table," as there is a legal back door that allows the company to publish new information.
"Under the plea agreement, the U.S. has a right to see any findings and agree to them in advance," said Strenger.
"Your reference to the statement of facts agreed in the U.S. is completely insufficient and almost insulting to all those who are interested in complete clarification of responsibilities."
Louise Ellman, who led the UK Transport Select Committee in the investigation of the diesel emission scandal called Poetsch's comments "not credible".
“We were told very clearly by VW that the report would be published in due course. Saying there is no report is not credible, it stretches the imagination too far and lets down consumers,” said Ellman to British paper, The Telegraph.
But there might be more to Volkswagen's decision as to not wanting to publish this report. Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Poetsch and Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller are under investigation by Stuttgart prosecutors for market manipulation relating to the diesel emission mess. Then today, a source revealed to Bloomberg that Müller is under investigation for possibly withholding information about the scandal to Porsche SE shareholders. German weekly WirtschaftsWoche says the investigation stems from a complaint filed last July by BaFin, Germany’s Financial Supervisory Authority that linked several Porsche SE executives to possible market manipulation.