VW Loans for Clean Engine Development Under Scrutiny, EIB Says

  • Scandal risks European Investment Bank reputation: Hoyer
  • EIB: no interest in seeking to `wreck a great global company'

The European Investment Bank is looking into loans made to Volkswagen AG to help fund the development of cleaner engines in light of the emissions scandal, EIB chief Werner Hoyer said.

Volkswagen’s cheating on diesel emissions is a “great shock” and must be analyzed since it threatens to hurt the climate credentials of the development bank, Hoyer said in an interview Sunday in Lima, where he was attending meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Werner Hoyer

Photographer: Thierry Monasse/AFP via Getty Images

“If we determine that the loans that we have extended to drive engine developments have not contributed to combating climate change, but have possibly done the contrary, then that is a reputational problem also for us,” he said. Hoyer suggested that the bank was unlikely to request the loans be repaid, saying it had no interest in seeking to “wreck” the company.

Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that the EIB had extended favorably-priced loans to VW of some 4.6 billion euros ($5.2 billion) since 1990 partly for research into cleaner engines, of which about 1.8 billion euros is outstanding. Volkswagen spokesman Eric Felber declined to comment on the report.

“I suspect that the corresponding loans have long since been paid back, but nevertheless it is a problem,” said Hoyer. “I want to make sure that the bank, which is in the forefront worldwide on climate issues -- we intend to invest 100 billion euros in climate projects in the next four years -- can be trusted that its investments are actually having a positive effect on the climate.”

Hoyer signaled that the EIB wouldn’t add to Volkswagen’s potential financial burdens by calling in loans. “It can’t be in our interest to wreck a great global company because of the likely criminal behavior of individuals, engineers, however far up in the hierarchy,” he said. “That is not our approach.”

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