Jones Day’s Munich office ()
Nearly two months after German law enforcement authorities raided Jones Day’s Munich office as part of an investigation into Volkswagen AG, a court has tossed a complaint by the firm about government efforts to obtain materials on its embattled client.
Juve, a leading German legal publication, reported Wednesday that a spokeswoman for a district court in Munich had confirmed the dismissal of Jones Day’s objections to a search of its offices as part of an ongoing probe of Volkswagen and its Audi affiliate.
In April, Jones Day retained Frankfurt criminal defense lawyer Jürgen Klengel, a former equity partner at White & Case who started his own firm in February, according to Juve. The move came around the same time that Volkswagen was rebuffed in its bid to have a German court bar prosecutors from using information seized during searches of Jones Day, Volkswagen and Audi. A German judge reportedly condemned a lack of transparency surrounding Volkswagen’s so-called Dieselgate fiasco, which has cost the German auto giant at least $25 billion in the U.S.
Volkswagen is closely controlled by a group of founding families and the German state of Lower Saxony, where the company is headquartered in the city of Wolfsburg. Hans Dieter Pötsch, chairman of Volkswagen’s supervisory board, spoke Wednesday with roughly 3,000 shareholders gathered for the company’s annual meeting in Hanover, Germany.
“There is no written final report from Jones Day and there will be none,” Pötsch said, when asked whether Volkswagen intended to release the results of an internal investigation by the firm into allegations that the company rigged emissions software in vehicles. “I ask for your understanding that VW for legal reasons is prevented from publishing such a final report.”
German newspaper Handelsblatt reported in January that Volkswagen would not release the results of Jones Day’s inquiry, a move that preceded the surprise mid-March raid by the Munich public prosecutor’s office on the firm’s office in the city. Handelsblatt recently reported that Volkswagen has come under fire in Germany for spending millions in legal fees on Jones Day and other law firms it has hired to deal with the spiraling Dieselgate scandal.
Volkswagen, which recruited a new chief compliance officer in Kurt Michels from Daimler AG in March, saw former deputy U.S. attorney general Larry Thompson be named as compliance monitor last month to ensure that the company complies with a criminal plea and separate civil consent decree in the U.S. (In April, a federal judge in San Francisco slashed by 90 percent a $28.5 million fee request by plaintiffs firm Hagens Berman in litigation between Volkswagen and its franchise dealers.)
As for Jones Day, Juve reported this week that the firm’s legal options are limited after losing its appeal in Germany related to the search of its Munich office, which opened in 2002.
A Jones Day spokesman did not return a request for comment on the matter.