Brazil probe of dictatorship period not satisfied by Volkswagen testimony

Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:05pm EST
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By Brian Winter

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The leader of a truth commission investigating abuses during Brazil's 1964-85 military dictatorship lambasted German automaker Volkswagen AG (VOWG.DE: Quote) at a hearing on Friday for providing what he called "unsatisfactory" testimony regarding its alleged ties with the regime.

In a contentious, nearly three hour-long session, Sao Paulo state legislator Adriano Diogo and several former Volkswagen employees pressed a company executive to explain whether and how the automaker collaborated with the right-wing regime.

Documents uncovered last year suggest that Volkswagen and dozens of other companies gave the dictatorship names, home addresses and other sensitive information regarding union activists on their payrolls in the 1980s.

The workers appeared on a so-called "black list" compiled by police. Some were then fired, detained or harassed by security forces and were unable to get new jobs for long periods afterwards, a Reuters investigation found.

Volkswagen, which had more workers on the list than any other company, was one of three companies called to testify on Friday before the Sao Paulo state commission, chaired by Diogo, a member of Brazil's ruling Workers' Party.

The other two companies, Brazilian industrial firms Grupo Aliperti and Cobrasma CBMA4.SA, did not send representatives.

Rogerio Varga, a manager of legal affairs for Volkswagen, said the company respected the work conducted by various truth commissions across Brazil, but it was still reviewing internal files to see whether allegations of collaboration were true.

"There is no document in any archive that has been uncovered that places the institution of Volkswagen in collaboration with any violation of human rights," Varga said.   Continued...

A Volkswagen logo is pictured in front of a slum, at the Volkswagen plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo January 8, 2015.  REUTERS/Nacho Doce