Volkswagen Suspends Chief Lobbyist Amid Fallout From Monkey Scandal

Volkswagen’s ongoing monkey scandal has claimed its first victim with the resignation of the company’s chief of external and government relations.

This resignation follows on the heels of the current controversy encircling animal experiments sponsored by the German auto company, that featured diesel equipped Beetles gassing monkeys in an effort to prove that diesel exhaust fumes were safe to breathe. The use of monkeys as subjects is controversial, considering how similar they are to humans especially when it comes to internal anatomy.

Volkswagen revealed that it has accepted a proposal by Steg himself that he step down from his post, and assume full responsibility for the experiments that were revealed in a piece posted by the New York Times last week. “Mr Steg has declared that he will take full responsibility. I respect that,” stated company CEO Matthias Muller.

In the fore-mentioned piece, it was revealed that Steg was among a small group of people who worked with EUGT, the research institute that came up with the experiment, and was ultimately disbanded last year on behalf of Volkswagen. This stunning admission also raises questions about whether the company’s board of directors (Steg’s superiors) was aware of the experiments. For their part, the company has repeatedly denied that it had any prior knowledge of the experiments, and that they were never discussed  in board meetings.

As for Steg he had an impressive resume of service prior to his resignation, with the 57 year old lobbyist lending his expertise to former German chancellor Gerhard Schroder, as well as German opposition leader Frank Walter-Steinmeier, before taking up his post at Volkswagen in early 2012.

While the investigation is still ongoing, Volkswagen has named a temporary successor with the appointment of Jens Hanefeld who is currently responsible for tackling international and European issues for the company. VW claims that Hanefeld will be carrying on in an acting capacity until the investigation is finished, but we will not be surprised if Hanefeld’s appointment morphs into a permanent spot for the seasoned executive.

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