FRANKFURT – Volkswagen AG said on Tuesday that its head of external relations had been suspended in connection with the car maker’s involvement in tests using monkeys to measure the effects of exhaust fumes, Dow Jones reported.
Volkswagen said it accepted the proposal of Thomas Steg, Head of Group External Relations and Sustainability, that he be suspended while the matter is investigated.
Steg said he would assume full responsibility.
The animal-testing revelation is a blow to a company still dealing with the fallout of the emissions-testing scandal that emerged in late 2015, when it admitted that around 11 million vehicles had been equipped with software that helped to sidestep pollution standards.
“Again and again we find out that the crisis at Volkswagen is not yet over,” Chief Executive Matthias Müller said in a letter to employees published Tuesday in German newspaper Handelsblatt.
The tests, conducted in the United States, were financed by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, which was supported by Volkswagen.
Volkswagen is investigating the organization’s work and would draw “all the necessary consequences,” it said.
“We know that the scientific methods used by EUGT were wrong and apologize sincerely for this,” Volkswagen said in a tweet over the weekend.
EUGT was an association that researched traffic-related emissions and their impact on health and the environment.
The association was founded by Volkswagen, BMW AG, Daimler AG, and Robert Bosch GmbH.
Steg has been the general representative for external relations and government affairs since 2012 and reported directly to Müller in this position.
His previous roles include deputy head of the office of Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and deputy spokesman for the German federal government.
The tests were first reported by US newspaper The New York Times.