Following the confiscation of a Volkswagen employee’s passport during a visit to the U.S., German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung reports that company managers now worry about making U.S. travel plans for fear of being held in the country.

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Since VW could receive up to $18 billion in U.S. fines following its Dieselgate emissions scandal, Reuters cites the newspaper in reporting that company sources believe investigators—including the ones who took the passport—want to keep VW managers from avoiding questioning or criminal prosecution in relation to the emissions scandal.

According to Reuters, a VW spokesperson said that employees continue to travel to the U.S. for the time being and “everything else is speculation.”

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Speculation or not, the newspaper cited a person with knowledge of the situation as stating that a major trip for the company will now be unlikely. New VW Chief Executive Matthias Mueller unofficially planned to visit the U.S. in late November, but the paper quoted a member of the company’s management group stating that VW will “need legal security here before [Mueller] can fly to the United States.” When asked about the trip, Reuters reports that VW declined to comment.

This comes at a time when VW is reportedly in talks of a new “TDI Goodwill Program,” which is essentially a bribe for owners using prepaid credit cards—one card worth $500 to be used anywhere, and one ranging from $500 to $750 for VW dealerships.

And (though unrelated) while we’re on the topic of bribes, I’d be willing to bet that there’s no bribing yourself out of a country once investigators confiscate your passport. Drat.


Photo credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

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Contact the author at alanis.king@jalopnik.com.