VW set up least 10 companies to handle bribes
9 August 2005, BRAUNSCHWEIG, GERMANY - Two executives who have since been fired by Volkswagen set up at least 10 companies in eight nations to handle bribes, a German labour tribunal was told Tuesday.
9 August 2005
BRAUNSCHWEIG, GERMANY - Two executives who have since been fired by Volkswagen set up at least 10 companies in eight nations to handle bribes, a German labour tribunal was told Tuesday.
In one case, a Czech supplier invoiced Volkswagen for services, personnel executive Klaus-Joachim Gebauer arranged for the five-digit euro sum to be paid, and the Czech firm remitted the same amount to Gebauer's bank account, a Volkswagen lawyer said in Braunschweig.
"That is what any ordinary person would call a bribe," said lawyer Michael Ganninger.
Gebauer, 61, has sought protection from the labour tribunal against his June dismissal.
Volkswagen fired him and Helmuth Schuster, former chief of personnel at VW's Czech subsidiary Skoda, after discovering the scam, which had obtained a bribe from the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh with a promise to see a VW plant was built in Visakhapatnam city.
Volkswagen has since sent a EUR 2 million cheque to Andhra Pradesh. It says it has not decided on a new plant.
The Indian affair was not mentioned Tuesday at the hearing, but Ganninger Gebauer and Schuster used their employer as a "platform" to steer funds into their own pockets. Gebauer told the tribunal he was being used as a scapegoat. He denied the accusations.
After Tuesday's vain attempt to find common ground, the tribunal adjourned the case to November 17 for a full hearing.
Gebauer insisted he had merely been a helper to Peter Hartz, Volkswagen's board member for personnel, and Klaus Volkert, chairman of the labour representation council, who have resigned their posts.
Lawyer Wolfgang Kubicki for Gebauer said the "incredible accusations" against his client would "vanish into thin air" when checked and Gebauer would then claim damages for libel. Prosecutors are investigating Schuster and Gebauer separately.
Ganninger charged that the influence-peddling and kickbacks were organized through contracts, some of which were signed by Gebauer. One of the schemes had been to cream off two-thirds of the profits from importing Volkswagen cars into Angola.
In the Czech Republic, the two also held a stake in F-Bel, a firm appointed to build a theme park in Prague similar to the Autostadt theme park that Volkswagen operates at its Wolfsburg headquarters.
Subject: German news