VW reinstates lobbyist, exonerating him over monkey testing

Steg has served as VW’s chief lobbyist since 2012. Photo credit: VW

WOLFSBURG, Germany — Volkswagen AG said it has reinstated its former chief lobbyist after an internal investigation into his role in tests that exposed monkeys and humans to toxic diesel fumes found no evidence of wrongdoing.

In January Europe’s largest automaker had suspended Thomas Steg, a former German government spokesman who took charge of external relations at Volkswagen in 2012, pending the investigation.

“Volkswagen management, as well as I personally, believe that it is part of good corporate culture that employees must be fully rehabilitated after being exonerated,” VW’s head of integrity and legal affairs, Hiltrud Werner, told reporters on Wednesday at the carmaker’s base in Wolfsburg.

The company is continuing a broader investigation into all of its research projects.

A source at VW had said in January that 58-year-old Steg, as head of sustainability topics at the VW group, was not only in charge of the unit that had commissioned the tests but also had prior knowledge of the monkey experiments and had made no effort to stop them.

“I was neither responsible for the planning, the authorization or the commissioning of this study,” Steg told a press briefing on Wednesday. “The study was unnecessary and of no scientific use, it should have never happened.”

The project was funded by VW and German peers Daimler and BMW, seeking to prove that diesel cars posed less of a threat to human health than groups including the World Health Organization have claimed, an auto-industry source has said.



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