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CNBC Transcript: CNBC’s Phil LeBeau Speaks with Ken Feinberg on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” Today After Volkswagen Announcement

WHEN: Today, Thursday, December 17th

WHERE: CNBC's "Closing Bell"

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Kenneth Feinberg and CNBC's Phil LeBeau on "Closing Bell" (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET) today. Following is a link to the interview on CNBC.com: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000467292.

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

BILL GRIFFETH: WE BROUGHT YOU THE NEWS EARLIER THAT KEN FEINBERG WILL BE OVERSEEING VOLKSWAGEN'S NEW CLAIM FUNDS, PHIL LEBEAU JOINS US NOW WITH MR. FEINBERG. PHIL

PHIL LEBEAU: THANK YOU BILL. LET'S BRING IN KEN FEINBERG WHO JOINS US ON THE PHONE. KEN, HOW DID THIS DEAL WITH VOLKSWAGEN COMING TOGETHER IN TERMS OF YOU AGREEING TO OVERSEE A FUND FOR CLAIMS?

KENNETH FEINBERG: OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS I'VE SAT DOWN WITH VOLKSWAGEN HERE IN NORTH AMERICA RIGHT OUTSIDE OF WASHINGTON, D.C., AND WE DISCUSSED THE DESIRE OF THE COMPANY TO SET UP SOME SORT OF CLAIMS PROGRAM, SIMILAR IN STRUCTURE TO THE 9/11 FUND, THE BP OIL SPILL FUND, THE GM IGNITION SWITCH FUND TO SEE IF IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO DEVELOP A PROGRAM THAT WOULD VOLUNTARILY ENCOURAGE INDIVIDUAL ELIGIBLE CAR OWNERS TO COME INTO THE PROGRAM INSTEAD OF LITIGATING.

LEBEAU: AND, KEN, I'M CURIOUS, THE PARAMETERS HAVEN'T BEEN SET UP YET SO IT'S UNCLEAR IF THIS WOULD SIMPLY BE MORE THOSE 482000 DIESEL VW OWNERS IN THE U.S. WHO ARE IMPACTED BY THE RIGGED EMISSIONS OR WHETHER OR NOT IT MIGHT BE EXPANDED BEYOND THAT?

FEINBERG: AGAIN, THAT HASN'T BEEN DECIDED. I MUST SAY MY UNDERSTANDING IS WE'RE TALKING ABOUT NORTH AMERICA, BUT, AGAIN, NO FINAL DECISION. YOU'RE RIGHT, WE'RE JUST BEGINNING TO SIT DOWN NOW AS WE DID A YEAR AND A HALF AGO WITH GENERAL MOTORS AND PLAN A PROTOCOL THAT WOULD ENCOMPASS ELIGIBLE VEHICLES, AND A DETERMINATION OF WHAT TYPE OF VEHICLES ARE ELIGIBLE FOR A MENU OF REMEDIES.

GRIFFETH: MR. FEINBERG, BILL GRIFFETH HERE. I DON'T MEAN TO BE INDELICATE BUT I'M CURIOUS, IT'S FASCINATING THE CAREER THAT YOU'VE CARVED OUT, THIS FRANCHISE NOW BETWEEN THE BP OIL SPILL, THE IGNITION SWITCH AT GM, THE BERNIE MADOFF FUND AND NOW VOLKSWAGEN. HOW ARE YOU COMPENSATED IF YOU DON'T MIND MY ASKING, DO YOU BILL BY THE HOUR OR DO YOU GET A PERCENTAGE OF THE FUND THAT YOU ADMINISTER?

FEINBERG: WELL, CLEARLY NOT THE LATTER. NOW, REMEMBER, WHEN YOU – WHEN YOU SAY HOW DO I GET PAID, DON'T FORGET, 9/11 VICTIM COMPENSATION FUND, THAT WAS PRO BONO FOR 33 MONTHS.

GRIFFETH: YES.

FEINBERG: ONE FUND BOSTON, THE AURORA COLORADO SHOOTINGS, THE VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTINGS, THE CONNECTICUT SHOOTINGS, ALL PRO BONO. NOW, YOU'RE RIGHT, BP I WAS COMPENSATED AND GM I WAS COMPENSATED AND VOLKSWAGEN I'M COMPENSATED. YOU WILL HAVE TO SPEAK TO VOLKSWAGEN ABOUT THE PARAMETERS AND SCOPE OF MY COMPENSATION BUT IT HAS NOTHING TO DO, I CAN ASSURE YOU, WITH HOW MANY CLAIMS COME INTO THE FUND OR HOW THEY ARE TREATED OR HOW THEY ARE PAID. THAT IS -- THAT IS CERTAINLY NOT THE CASE.

GRIFFETH: I WAS NOT SUGGESTING THAT BY ANY MEANS. I WAS JUST CURIOUS, THIS NICHE THAT YOU'VE CARVED OUT FOR YOURSELF OVER THE YEARS, YOU KNOW, YOU TRULY YOU HAVE DEVELOPED THIS BLUEPRINT FOR HOW YOU VALUE A LIFE OR WHATEVER IT IS YOU'RE DOING IN A PARTICULAR FUND. I'M JUST CURIOUS HOW YOU DO THAT COMPENSATION WISE. BUT YOU'VE ANSWERED THAT QUESTION NOW. BUT I WASN'T –

FEINBERG: ALSO, YOU KNOW, YOU'VE RAISED AN INTERESTING POINT HERE. FORTUNATELY, FORTUNATELY WITH VOLKSWAGEN WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT DEATHS OR PHYSICAL INJURIES.

GRIFFETH: RIGHT. RIGHT.

FEINBERG: AND THAT IS, OF COURSE, A MAJOR FORTUNATE FACTOR HERE. THIS IS AUTOMOBILE PROPERTY AND AUTOMOBILE – AN AUTOMOBILE FIX, OR A SOLUTION, RATHER THAN DEATH AND INJURY, WHICH IS FORTUNATE THAT WE DON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THAT.

GRIFFETH: INDEED.

LEBEAU: AND, KEN, ONE LAST QUESTION. GIVEN THE FACT THAT YOU ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT THE LOSS OF LIFE AND CERTAINLY NOT MILLIONS OF VEHICLES, DO YOU EXPECT THIS TO BE A FUND THAT YOU COULD WRAP UP SO TO SPEAK RELATIVELY QUICKLY?

FEINBERG: WELL, THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION AND IT'S WHAT YOU MEAN BY RELATIVELY. I THINK, YES. WE WOULD HOPE THAT IN CONTRAST TO THE CONVENTIONAL LITIGATION SYSTEM WHERE CLAIMS CAN DRAG ON IN COURT FOR YEARS, WE WOULD HOPE, AS WITH 9/11, BP AND GM, TO COME TO A FAIRLY EFFICIENT AND SWIFT PROCESSING OF THESE CLAIMS. BUT HERE OF COURSE, WE HAVE NOT YET SAT DOWN WITH THE COMPANY, WITH THE LAWYERS, WITH THE LAWYERS FOR THE OWNERS OF THE CARS, WITH REGULATORS TO DETERMINE WHAT THE MENU OF REMEDIES WILL BE IN A FUND LIKE THIS. AND THAT WILL BE A VERY, VERY IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THE WHOLE PROGRAM. WE HAVEN'T DECIDED THAT YET.

LEBEAU: KEN FEINBERG, ATTORNEY WHO, AS BILL GRIFFETH WOULD SAY, HAS REALLY CARVED OUT A NICHE WHEN IT COMES TO FIGURING OUT THE COMPENSATION FOR SOME OF THESE ISSUES WHEN THEY HAVE ARISEN, HE DID GENERAL MOTORS IGNITION SWITCH AND, BILL, AS WE WERE TALKING TO HIM ABOUT, HE IS NOW GOING TO BE IN CHARGE OF THE INDEPENDENT CLAIMS FOR THESE VW DIESEL EMISSIONS CLAIMS.

GRIFFETH: I'M EMBARRASSED TO SAY I FORGOT ALL ABOUT THE 9/11 FUND TOO, OF ALL THINGS, TOO. PHIL, THANKS VERY MUCH. OUR THANKS TO KEN FEINBERG FOR HIS TIME, TOO.

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