Chapter 1: Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal exposed; enter Larry Thompson

Diesel emissions

The Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal wasn’t the work of one executive who thought to install illicit software into diesel motor vehicles. It was born from a “chain of errors that was never broken,” forming the basis for one of the largest and most high-profile corporate compliance monitorships in history.

The Volkswagen monitorship is one of the largest and most high-profile corporate compliance monitorships in history. Coupled with the Volkswagen auditorship conducted at the same time, it also has one of the most unique arrangements: Both were overseen by the same man.

After an illustrious 43-year career in law and government service, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson came out of retirement to become the German auto giant’s independent compliance monitor and auditor. His remit was to ensure Volkswagen fulfilled its obligations imposed by the DOJ in relation to both criminal and civil resolutions.

“I thought: He’s probably going to give us a really hard time,” said Dr. Thomas Meiers, Volkswagen’s chief coordinator for the U.S. monitorship, regarding Thompson. “At the same time, I thought it’s better to have somebody who’s really experienced, who knows what he is doing, rather than have two or three people whisper in your ear, ‘Oh, take that monitor because that’ll be an easy one.’”

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