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Former VW manager fined, given suspended sentence for role in corruption scandal

Former VW manager fined, given suspended sentence for role in corruption scandal

Volkswagen AG's former personnel chief was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence on Thursday and fined euro576,000 (about US$749,000) for his role in a corruption scandal at the German automaker.
Judge Gerstin Dreyer's ruling was widely expected, as part of an agreement made by Peter Hartz, 65, and his attorney ahead of the trial in exchange for his far-reaching confession to 35 counts of breach of trust.
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.
The former personnel chief, who once advised former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on how to streamline Germany's jobless benefit system, had faced a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Hartz' attorney Egon Mueller said told the court earlier Thursday 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 : 2021-04-11 05:27 GMT+08:00