German prosecutors want more information from those who worked for former Volkswagen CEO Ferdinand Piëch during the years that questionable expense-account practices took place at the company.
That is the latest development in the corruption trial of two former VW employees that resumed today in Brunswick, Germany.
State investigators want to question Audi CEO Rupert Stadler and former VW Group Finance Chief Bruno Adelt, according to German radio station NDR.
German daily newspaper Handelsblatt reports on its Web site that Adelt alerted Piëch to irregularities in the expense accounts of former mid-level human resources manager Klaus-Joachim Gebauer. The newspaper reports that Piëch asked Stadler to investigate. At the time, Stadler was secretary general of an office that oversaw VW groups board of management.
The VW corruption scandal broke in summer 2005 when the automaker fired Gebauer, accusing him of embezzling money from the company. Gebauer has told prosecutors that his actions, which included organizing sex trips for former VW union boss Klaus Volkert, were sanctioned by former VW personnel head Peter Hartz in the interest of good labor relations.
In January, Hartz received a suspended two-year sentence and a 576,000 euro fine for his role in the scandal. Hartz had confessed to sanctioning illegal payments in an attempt to win union support for company decisions.
Piëch is not on trial, but he is scheduled to testify January 9 in the trial of Gebauer and Volkert. Piëch currently is head of the VW groups supervisory board.
Volkert is charged on 48 counts of incitement to breach of trust, while Gebauer faces 41 charges of breach of trust. Most of the allegations are based on a guilty plea earlier this year by Gebauer.
Volkert is accused of illegally taking payments from the German carmaker amounting to 1.95 million euros.
Piëch has told German state investigators that he knew nothing of these payments. He said he relied on Hartz to handle all matters related to Volkert. During his trial, Hartz told the court that Piëch knew nothing of special bonuses paid to Volkert.
But Volkert surprised the court last week when he provided a document signed by Piëch and Hartz, which Volkert claims authorized bonus payments that he received from VW. After seeing the document, senior prosecutor Ralf Tacke said: This letter will be a basic fact in the hearing of Mr. Piëch.
You may e-mail Bettina Mayer at [email protected]