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Volkswagen Scandal Puts Yates Memo to the Test

Jaclyn Jaeger | October 6, 2015

If ever a case of corporate misconduct could compel the Justice Department to follow through on its new promises to prosecute individuals more vigorously, the emissions scandal at Volkswagen is it.

Less than two weeks after the Justice Department trumpeted its new Yates Memo on Sept. 9, demanding much more cooperation from companies to find individual wrongdoers, Volkswagen confessed that it had sold millions of cars with “defeat devices” to evade federal standards on auto emissions. The CEO has been fired. Top lieutenants have been fired. The fines and penalties could hit $20 billion.

And investigations are springing up like weeds, from Washington to Europe to state capitals all over the country. Ultimately, Volkswagen will need to deal with them all.

In a recent statement, Volkswagen’s U.S. CEO Michael Horn spoke candidly about the wrongdoing: “Let’s be clear about this: Our company was dishonest, with the [Environmental Protection Agency] and the California...

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