Former Volkswagen personnel chief, Peter Hartz has been given a two year suspended sentence and a fine of nearly 600,000 euros for his role in a bribery and prostitution case. Hartz pleaded guilty to approving two million euros in improper payments to a trade union leader. He has escaped a more severe punishment due to his co-operation with investigators.
A court room spokesman said: “Of course you have to take into account the considerable amount of money passed on. On the other hand, here is a wrong-doer who has made a full confession.” But Hartz’s contrition held no sway with protesters outside the court room. The top level executive was also a former government adviser becoming synonymous with harsh labour reforms during Gerhard Schroeder’s chancellorship. .
Prior to the verdict, protesters said they were hoping that he would get a tough punishment, but were not optimistic – a suspended sentence would, according to one man, be an outrage. In all 13 people are being investigated in the scandal. Volkswagen also faces separate allegations that executives took bribes from would-be suppliers and set up front companies to secure foreign contracts.