The settlement agreement was signed by the Federal Attorney’s Office in São Paulo, the Public Prosecutor’s Office of São Paulo State and the Labor Attorney in São Bernardo do Campo, a Public Ministry of Labor division.
Hiltrud Werner, Board of Management member of Volkswagen AG for Integrity and Legal Affairs, said: “We sincerely regret the violations that have occurred in the past. We are aware that it is a joint responsibility of corporates and the broader society to respect human rights and foster their observance. For Volkswagen AG, it is important that we deal responsibly with this negative chapter in the Brazilian history and foster transparency.”
Under the agreement Volkswagen do Brasil committed itself to paying R$ 9 million into the Federal and State Funds for the Defense and Reparation for Diffuse Rights (FDD).
Furthermore, the company decided to donate R$ 10.5 million to projects promoting the memory and the truth in relation with the human rights violations happened in Brazil during the military dictatorship.
The Federal University of São Paulo – Unifesp will receive R$ 4.5 million. From this amount, R$ 2.5 million of it will go to the Forensic Anthropology and Archeology Center (CAAF) to support the identification of victims who are buried in mass graves. The other R$ 2 million will be directed to the development of new researches to investigate the complicity of companies in human rights violations during the military government.
The Fight for Justice Memorial, an initiative promoted by the Brazilian Bar Association São Paulo’s Section (OAB/SP) and by the Political Memory Preservation Center (NPMP), will receive R$ 6 million. This memorial is being implemented at São Paulo’s old Military Audit headquarters and is aimed to promote the memory of the defense of justice in its multiple dimensions. The amount will be used to conclude the implantation of the Memorial.
The company will also donate R$ 16.8 million to the Volkswagen Workers’ Association – Henrich Plagge Association. Most of this sum will be directed to former Volkswagen do Brasil’s workers – or their legal successors- who did manifest violations of human rights during the dictatorship.
The Conduct Adjustment Agreement will become legally effective once the Supreme Council of the São Paulo Prosecutor’s Office and, within the scope of Federal Attorney’s Office, the Operational Support Center of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office for Civil Rights of the 3rd Region have approved the completion of the relevant investigations.
Volkswagen is the first foreign company to transparently come to terms with its past during the military dictatorship in Brazil. In 2016, the company commissioned an independent scientific study, which was presented by the historian Professor Dr. Christopher Kopper of the University of Bielefeld in September 2017. In light of the scientific evaluation of the available sources, Professor Kopper concludes in his independent scientific study that there was cooperation between individuals of site security at Volkswagen do Brasil and the former military regime but no clear evidences were found indicating that this cooperation was institutionalized in the company. At that time employees could have been exposed to human rights violations. As a result, coming to terms with the company’s history and the investigation of the incidents during the military regime is also an important concern for Volkswagen’s workforce. The European and Global Works Council initiated the change in corporate culture at VW do Brasil from 1979 onwards.