BRUSSELS - German prosecutors have dropped all criminal charges against Jose Ignacio Lopez and three other former General Motors purchasing executives, in return for their payments to charities of DM590,000 ($328,000). The decision ends a bitter five-year saga that pitted GM against the Volkswagen Group.
GM accused the four men of taking company secrets with them when they defected to VW in 1993. German prosecutors said the case was too cumbersome, too complicated, and no longer in the public interest to pursue.
The four men were indicted in 1996 for stealing confidential documents.
Lopez was ordered to pay DM400,000 and his chief confidant, Manuel Gutierrez, DM100,000. Jorge Alvarez was required to donate DM50,000 and Rosario Piazza was ordered to pay DM40,000.
GM agreed in 1997 not to actively pursue the criminal case in Germany. The GM agreement was part of an out-of-court settlement of a civil suit that GM filed against VW in the USA. VW paid $100 million in damages and agreed to buy $1 billion in GM parts over seven years.
A criminal investigation by the US Justice Department remains unresolved.