Volkswagen do Brasil walked out of the negotiating table in a hearing about possible slave labor on a subsidiary's Amazon farm in the 1970s and 1980s, according to Brazilian prosecutors. The company said it was not interested in signing an agreement with the prosecuting authority responsible for labor law, the authority said in a statement in Brasília on Wednesday (local time). In Germany, such an agreement roughly corresponds to a pre-trial agreement.
Prosecutors deplored Volkswagen's stance, which contradicted the company's commitment to the country and human rights. She announced that she would take all judicial and extrajudicial measures necessary for effective reparation of the damage allegedly caused by the company.
"Volkswagen do Brasil rejects all allegations contained in the logs of this investigation into Fazenda Vale do Rio Cristalino and does not agree with the unilateral representations of facts made by third parties," a spokesman for Volkswagen do Brasil said when asked. The Brazilian public prosecutor only informed the company three years after the investigations began.
The Brazilian public prosecutor summoned VW do Brasil in May 2022. The hearing in June 2022 also discussed possible compensation for the workers on the farm and for Brazilian society. It is about a very serious violation of human rights, which took place for more than ten years with the direct involvement of Volkswagen, according to the statement by the public prosecutor.
Prosecutor Rafael Garcia Rodrigues had spoken of inhospitable accommodation on the farm known as "Fazenda Volkswagen" in Santana do Araguaia in the state of Pará. In addition, the workers could not have left the farm. The workers and Brazilian society itself deserve more respectful treatment and compensation for the damage caused, according to investigating prosecutors.
The prosecution's proposal called for compensation for workers already identified as allegedly injured, and a program to search for other workers who were also treated in the same way on the farm.
According to investigators Garcia Rodrigues, the "Fazenda Volkswagen" was one of the largest companies in the rural Amazon region, and the car company wanted to get into the meat business at the time. It was founded in the 1970s and supported by the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964-1985). The farm was around 1390 square kilometers and had around 300 workers. The temporary workers responsible for the clearing, to whom the allegation of slave labor mainly relates, were not directly employed by the subsidiary.
According to the public prosecutor's office, compensation from the Brazilian company is necessary because the undertaking could count on public funds and tax breaks.