VW appoints new chief lawyer as it moves to bolster public affairs

Volkswagen, seeking to bolster its public affairs office, today named a new chief lawyer, while moving the former lead counsel to head the public affairs office.

Volkswagen and its subsidiary Audi, seeking approval of proposed fixes in the Dieselgate emissions scandal, today shook up their legal and government affairs staffs. Volkswagen replaced its top lawyer while moving the current occupant of that post into a broader public affairs role.

On the VW side, David Detweiler, an attorney with the law firm Clifford Chances, was named executive vice president and general counsel at Volkswagen of America Group.According to Volkswagen, Detweiler, who had previously advised the automaker such as corporate bonds, has replaced David Geanacopoulos. Geanacopoulos was also head of public affairs and will remain at the automaker, focusing on government relations as senior executive vice president for public affairs and public policy, Reuters said in a story.

Also, Audi of America named Brad Stertz its new director of Audi government affairs, and Tom Baloga as senior director of Audi government affairs. Baloga will also head a new Sacramento, Calif. Office

“The diesel emissions crisis has, understandably, broken the trust of regulators, elected officials and the public,” Thomas Steg, head of group government relations at Volkswagen AG. “Now, more than ever, the company must communicate with transparency and responsiveness to its stakeholders.”

To that end, apparently, the automaker has announced it will soon open an office in downtown Washington as it has in other world capitals. VW has been trying to enhance its ties with lawmakers and regulators in Washington as it struggles with the Dieselgate, emissions scandal. The scandal saw the automaker excoriated by Congress at an October hearing. Earlier this week, Audi, taking the corporate lead, submitted a fix to the California Air Resources Board, covering 80,000 Audi, Porsche and VW SUVs and large luxury cars. These vehicles are powered by VW’s six-cylinder 3.0-liter diesel. Audi developed the 3.0-liter diesel engine.