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International New York Times

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VW-Gate: 'Long Arm of U.S. Justice' Strikes Again (Der Spiegel, Germany)

 

"Banks, swindlers, FIFA officials: International transgressors get what they have coming from U.S. investigators. And now it's Volkswagen - that symbol of German engineering precision. But, of all things, for environmental fraud? From a country that isn't exactly known as a raging climate protector? Therein lays a bitter irony. The U.S. justice system has long left perpetrators of economic crimes largely undisturbed - most notably the masterminds behind the financial crisis. Bad luck for VW: Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in office only since April, is taking a harder line. According to an internal memo, she wants economic crime investigators to focus more on individual responsibility. VW is to be the first example."

 

By Marc Pitzke

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Translated By Stephanie Martin

 

September 26, 2015

 

Germany - Der Spiegel - Original Article (German)

New York: Banks, swindlers, FIFA officials and now Volkswagen: International transgressors get what they have coming from U.S. investigators. Now they have proven the undoing of VW Group's also-climate conscious CEO.

 

Great timing: Gina McCarthy had for some time planned to attend the press breakfast with The Wall Street Journal. Along with senior White House economic policy advisor Brian Deese, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wanted to have a little chat about the Clean Power Plan, America's new, more stringent climate measure.

 

http://worldmeets.us/images/VW-cheat-device_graphic.jpgThat worked out well. During Tuesday's panel discussion, McCarthy, to illustrate the effectiveness of the provisions which were introduced in August, was able to point to a climate change delinquent the EPA was closing in on: Germany's Volkswagen Group.

 

"This was particularly difficult for us to detect," she said, referring to the software VW used to manipulate the U.S. emissions tests for its "clean" Diesel models. "I'm really proud of the work that we did."

 

This effect of this is now snowballing. It is emerging that the VW scandal was probably only the beginning: "We are not going to sit around," McCarthy threatened. If other auto manufacturers, regardless of their country of origin, are cheating in a similar fashion, "we're going to find it."

 

The U.S. as global dispenser of justice

 

Once again the United States is proving a very tough dispenser of justice against global fraudsters. This has been the case many times before: British currency swindlers, Russian money launderers or questionable FIFA officials all had or are getting into trouble with the United States. Nor has the auto industry been spared: In 2014, the U.S. Justice Department saddled Japan's Toyota Corporation with a $1.2 billion fine for a deadly scandal involving stuck gas pedal.

 

And now it's Volkswagen - that symbol of German engineering precision. But, of all things, for environmental fraud? From a country that isn't exactly known as a raging climate protector? Therein lays a bitter irony.

 

The people of Wolfsburg were unlucky. With their emissions trickery they were caught in a perfect storm a rare combination of adverse circumstances, at least from VW's point of view. An ambitious EPA, a reinvigorated Justice Department, private environmental activists and a climate-conscious U.S. president who has nothing to lose: All of this aggravated the situation for VW.

 

This starts with the fact that America, despite its lousy eco-image, has tougher environmental standards than most other states. In particular, the EPA's emissions tests are more stringent than, for example, Europe.

 

 

Without impetus from private sources, the EPA would never have ferreted out VW's cheating. The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), a German-American climate protection organization, had noted discrepancies in VW emissions tests last year - and alerted the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. EPA.

Posted By Worldmeets.US

 

For the EPA it was perfect timing: When EPA chief McCarthy took office in mid 2013, she became the face of President Obama's climate change ambitions: freed from political constraints, Obama hopes to go down in history.

 

And McCarthy needed good news: In August, the EPA made headlines when it accidentally contaminated an entire river with more than eleven million liters of toxic liquids. A change in topic, which put the agency in a positive light, was a welcomed one.

 

To fight polluters on the road, the EPA has powerful means at its disposal: Under the Clean Air Act, America's climate law, the agency has the authority to impose million-dollar civil penalties. Meanwhile, U.S. emissions standards were just tightened in August.

 

It seems that the word 'Watergate' and the scandal it references never go out of style. There are a number of events...

Posted by WorldMeetsUS on Friday, September 25, 2015

 

"They take the responsibilities that they have to enforce the Clean Air Act very seriously," Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said regarding the EPA's roll in the VW scandal. He said that enforcing the environmental laws was an "economic priority."

 

Volkswagen as an example

 

Another weapon against corporations trying to dodge U.S. regulations is the Department of Justice. According to The Wall Street Journal, the department's environmental division has initiated a separate criminal investigation in the VW case.

 

Even here that is no coincidence. The U.S. justice system has long left perpetrators of economic crimes largely undisturbed - most notably the masterminds behind the financial crisis. Banks were permitted to get off by paying manageable fines, while CEOs in the worst case scenario ended up with fat severance and retirement payoffs.

 

Bad luck for VW: Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in office only since April, is taking a harder line. According to an internal memo, she wants economic crime investigators to focus more on "individual responsibility." VW is to be the first example.

 

 

On Tuesday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that several U.S. states want to form an alliance to initiate investigations against the German carmaker.

 

In addition, Congress is getting involved. Two subcommittees have already announced hearings to interrogate senior managers at VW in a manner similar to American companies and banks.

 

Other companies should also be concerned around the world. McCarthy promised during her appearance on Tuesday that the EPA will be "upping our game" in the fight against auto industry polluters.

 

CLICK HERE FOR GERMAN VERSION

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Posted By Worldmeets.US September 26, 2015, 8:17am

 

 

 

 

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