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Former VW manager admits "buying" key colleague with bonuses ahead of expected ruling

Former VW manager admits "buying" key colleague with bonuses ahead of expected ruling

Volkswagen AG's former personnel chief on Thursday admitted "buying" the company's top worker representative ahead of an expected verdict in his trial on corruption charges.
Judge Gerstin Dreyer was expected to rule later in the day in the case of Peter Hartz, 65, who has confessed to the charges against him. In exchange for the information, he appears headed for a relatively lenient sentence _ at most, a two-year suspended sentence and a fine.
Hartz was the first person to go on trial in the Volkswagen scandal _ a case that has included allegations that company money was used to pay for lavish trips and prostitutes for worker representatives.
Hartz, who once advised former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on how to streamline Germany's jobless benefit system, is charged with 44 counts of breach of trust and with improperly favoring a worker representative.
Those charges carry a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Hartz' attorney Egon Mueller said his client admitted awarding "special bonuses" worth euro1.9 million (US$2.5 million) in VW funds to Klaus Volkert, in an attempt to curry favor with the former head of the company's powerful employee council.
Hartz was in "a position where you buy others," Mueller said.
Thirteen people are being investigated in the scandal, but only Hartz and Hans-Juergen Uhl, a lawmaker for the center-left Social Democrats, have been charged so far.
Prosecutors have yet to bring charges against Volkert, but the Braunschweig court has said it considers him a suspect on 33 counts of inciting breach of trust.
The company also faces separate investigations on executives' alleged taking of bribes from would-be suppliers to the company in an effort to court business, as well as the formation of front companies to secure foreign contracts.
Volkswagen has weathered the scandal in terms of earnings, posting stronger profit and sales over the first nine months of last year.


Updated : 2021-05-07 16:37 GMT+08:00