Confidential internals have become known again at Volkswagen (VW). In 2017 and 2018, confidential meetings of a VW special project group were listened to and recorded, as VW announced on request from the news agency dpa. The company is currently looking for an informer in its own ranks. The online business magazine Business Insider had published excerpts from the recordings. The working group concerned had a dispute with the supplier group Prevent a few years ago.
If internal and confidential meetings were documented and "such information is passed on to the public without justification, we are deeply shocked. The case will of course be investigated," said VW. Almost 50 hours of audio material are said to have been recorded by Business Insider . A spokesman for Prevent said the company had no knowledge of the recordings.
The dispute with the Prevent supplier group started in 2016: Prevent's subsidiaries stopped supplying VW with seat covers and gearboxes in the dispute over conditions. This resulted in a day-long production stop at the VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, and further disputes followed. In 2018 VW finally terminated all contracts with Prevent.
Prevent claims damages
In connection with these disputes, VW had discussed in a working group called "Project 1" how to deal with the supplier Prevent. According to the group, the VW internal team had the task of "averting further damage to the company, its customers, employees and suppliers." Responsible for the team were the then group purchasing manager Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz and the procurement director of the Volkswagen brand, Ralf Brandstätter. There were open discussions about "all possible approaches" - but many were also rejected. "It was not a decision-making body."
As was ultimately the case, part of the considerations included - as was ultimately the case - the "phasing out" of Prevent as a supplier in general, but also a coordinated approach with other automakers. VW denies having consulted with Daimler and BMW about Prevent: "There have been no coordinated actions with other OEMs (original equipment manufacturers)."
Prevent filed a lawsuit in the United States for $ 750 million some time ago for violating competition law. According to Prevent, VW also acted on suppliers there to bypass Prevent. In Germany, the legal disputes are about specific supply contracts.