Volkswagen has lost a legal challenge to block prosecutors from examining unpublished documents regarding its emission scandal, with Germany’s top court ruling on Friday that files seized from a U.S. law firm can be reviewed.
It indicates the data from the files may be made public as part of any criminal proceedings, thus giving more ammunition for shareholders and vehicle owners seeking damages.
Right after the dieselgate scandal broke in September 2015, the automaker hired law firm Jones Day and advisory firm Deloitte to investigate the concern and look at who was responsible.
Volkswagen never published the findings of the Jones Day investigation, although a summary was gathered in the form of a “Statement of Facts” for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Prosecutors investigated the Munich offices of Jones Day in March 2017 in association with a fraud investigation related to 3.0 liter diesel engines made by VW’s premium unit Audi.
The automaker fought the use of any files seized in the raid, and the constitutional court last July issued a temporary order blocking Munich prosecutors from evaluating the material.
The dismissal of VW’s legal challenge by the federal constitutional court on Friday is a another blow to the automaker, which is still overcoming with the implications of the dieselgate scandal nearly three years after it came to light. Munich state prosecutors stated it was not yet clear when they would start investigated the seized folders and computer data, but that they hoped they would make their probe easier.