Thomas Steg stepped down pending an investigation following the controversy earlier this year.
It seems that Volkswagen is set to reinstate its chief lobbyist Thomas Steg – the man who was said to be behind the company's involvement in the controversial monkey tests that were uncovered earlier this year by the New York Times.
Steg was suspended by the company in the wake of the controversy, which involved experiments that kept monkeys in airtight chambers and forced to inhale fumes from a diesel-engined Beetle to try and come up with evidence that would defend the quality of diesel fumes and refute a ruling by the World Health Organisation that the fumes are carcinogenic.
According to German newspaper Bild, which broke the news, the internal investigation at Volkswagen has found no wrongdoing by Steg and he has been given the all-clear to return to his post.
The tests, which were carried out by the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in New Mexico, were commissioned by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT), and were funded by Volkswagen, as well as BMW, and Mercedes owner Daimler.
All three have since denounced the tests – the EUGT was already disbanded in 2017 over controversy about its methods – and Volkswagen has even gone so far as to publicly declare that it will never test with animals again.
Despite the speculation linking Steg with a return to Volkswagen, a spokesman for the company told Reuters that a decision has not yet been made regarding a possible return. He was previously head of sustainability topics at VW group, and was put in charge of the EUGT.
Steg reportedly proposed himself that he step down from his post and assume full responsibility for the experiments. "Mr Steg has declared that he will take full responsibility. I respect that," said then-CEO Matthias Müller at the time.