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EU could demand back loans from VW

The European Investment Bank (EIB) could demand billions of euros in loans back from Volkswagen, if it determines that Europe’s largest carmaker misused the money to cheat on diesel emissions data.
Since 1990, the EIB has extended loans to VW worth some 4.6 billion euros ($5.2 billion) for the development of cleaner motors and production sites in South America.

In light of revelations that the German company had installed emissions test-defeating software in millions of diesel vehicles it sold in the United States and Europe, the EIB could ask for that money back, the bank’s chief, Werner Hoyer, told German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published Monday.

“The EIB rules may have been violated, because we have to fulfill certain climate targets with our loans,” the paper quoted Hoyer as saying on the sidelines of an International Monetary Fund meeting in Lima, Peru.

‘Very thorough investigations’

Around 1.8 billion euros of the EIB’s loans to VW are still outstanding. Hoyer said the bank would conduct “very thorough investigations” to determine whether VW had used any of the funds for nefarious purposes.

Should that be the case, Hoyer said he and his colleagues at the EIB would “ask ourselves whether we have to demand loans back.”

The VW cheating scandal has shaken trust in Germany’s automobile industry and tarnished the country’s reputation for engineering prowess.

Conflicts of interest

Former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down last month, but he did not relinquish his other positions within the company, including one as chief executive of Porsche SE, the holding company owned by the Porsche and Piëch families that controls a major stake in Volkswagen.

But now Winterkorn could resign from these other positions as well, according to information from “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and German TV stations NDR and WDR.

Winterkorn’s successor at VW, Matthias Müller, also works at Porsche SE as head of strategy and business development, and is thus Winterkorn’s subordinate. VW has so far said it was up to the supervisory boards of the companies in question to decide whether Winterkorn’s involvement represented a conflict of interest.

“Süddeutsche Zeitung”, NDR and WDR reported that Winterkorn had analyzed his situation and decided to step down from all of his remaining posts, which also include the chairman of VW’s luxury brand Audi, its trucks division Scania and the group’s Truck & Bus holding.

cjc/hg (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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