The scandal at Volkswagen keeps growing. Following the abrupt resignations of two senior executives, Volkswagen hired independent auditors KPMG to investigate charges of bribery within its personnel department.
VW group Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder has tried to put the best face on the scandal, saying it gives him an opportunity to clear out deadwood, change the cozy atmosphere of the past and install more modern, commercially minded executives.
That may be true. But the continuous drip of fresh revelations and additional allegations is causing Europe's largest automaker more damage than anyone at Wolfsburg will admit.
Volkswagen has been the symbol of German post-war resilience and rebirth. This scandal tarnishes and cheapens its accomplishments. It is a distraction that management and workers cannot afford.
Critics see the affair as symptomatic of bigger problems - that VW's vaunted close relationship with labor representatives is prone to abuse; that labor unionists among VW's senior management are too close to German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government; and that the state of Lower Saxony's 18 percent stake in VW impedes proper management.
The critics are scoring points. And key business decisions are being delayed. Pischetsrieder has been forced to review investments in new plants in India and Angola because of charges that VW executives asked construction suppliers for bribes.
Pischetsrieder and the VW board must install safeguards to change the corporate culture that allowed these practices to exist.
And then the company must get back to work.