Citing "unacceptable risks," Volkswagen has pulled out of a plan to provide an update into its diesel emissions scandal investigation in late April. "This decision is based on the assessment of the U.S. law firms retained by Volkswagen (Sullivan & Cromwell and Jones Day), which have both strongly advised against such a disclosure independently of each other," the company says in a statement released today.
The news comes amidst VW's delayed 2015 earnings announcement, where the company disclosed that it would be taking a €16.2 billion ($18.2 billion) writedown related to Dieselgate, including "pending technical modifications and customer-related measures as well as global legal risks."
Among other reasons, Volkswagen lists the potential for prejudice in the investigation by releasing any findings early, and — here's the big one — could "jeopardize" credit received from the US Department of Justice for offering its full cooperation. In other words, if VW just issues a global, public data dump rather than feeding data to the DOJ directly, the DOJ is disincentivized to cut Volkswagen some slack.
Just yesterday, news came out that VW had reached some sort of agreement with US regulators that would entail a combination of fixes, buybacks, environmental protection funds, and compensation to owners, but no specifics were offered. One theory floated at that time was that the company was still in active negotiations with the US over details of the agreement, and today's news would certainly back that up.