Germany eyes tougher sanctions for rogue companies: justice minister

BERLIN (Reuters) – The German government is considering tougher sanctions against companies that foster criminal behavior in the wake of Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) diesel emissions scandal, the country’s justice minister said.

A Volkswagen logo is pictured at Volkswagen’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

In an interview published in Friday’s edition of the Handelsblatt newspaper, Katarina Barley said she had seen a pattern by which companies try to blame individual managers for any wrongdoing.

“This was very blatant in the diesel scandal, in several companies,” she added, without naming any of the companies.

Barley said individuals will in future still be responsible for any crimes they commit.

“But if there is a visible structure in a company that fosters and covers up criminal behavior, there should be penalties for companies in the future,” she said, adding that fines could be equivalent to as much as 10 percent of a company’s annual revenue.

Volkswagen in 2015 admitted to using illegal software to cheat emissions tests, sparking a scandal that has cost it more than $27 billion in penalties and fines.

Reporting by Thomas Seythal; editing by Jason Neely

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