Only six months into his job, the US Justice Department-appointed monitor had some frank words for Volkswagen. “There was a corrupt corporate culture at Volkswagen,” Larry Thompson told Handelsblatt during his first interview since he started his work at VW’s headquarters in June. “It was not a culture marked by honesty and openness. The executives responsible for the affair obviously were not concerned that they would be putting their company in a precarious position.”
Mr. Thompson, the former US deputy attorney general under president George W. Bush, has been tasked with preventing any future transgressions at Volkswagen, where the monitor will spend the next three years overseeing the implementation of reforms. The US Department of Justice appointed him as special supervisor as part of a guilty plea agreed in January and settlements totaling as much as $15.3 billion. US environmental regulators revealed the scam in September 2015 after they had detected that VW cars spewed out more nitrogen oxide than regulations allow.
In the interview, Mr. Thompson said it will be years before VW has improved enough to make sure something like the emissions scandal, which affected 11 million diesel cars globally, never happens again. “At Volkswagen, we have a three-year marathon ahead of us, this is not a six-month sprint. There is no other way to go about it, because this is a very large corporation with hundreds of thousands of employees as well as complex internal structures.” The legal expert and his team will also investigate why the system of fraud and conspiracy went undiscovered for so long.