Volkswagen’s Chairman Ferdinand Piech has told a German court that he had no knowledge of a scheme to provide union leaders at the carmaker with cash bonuses and other perks, including sessions with prostitutes.
Piech was giving evidence at the fraud trial of the ex head of VW’s works council Klaus Volkert and former manager Klaus-Joachim Gebauer.
Prosecutor Joachim Geyer said Piech was chief executive of the carmaker at the time of the payments: “We’ve been investigating the VW scandal from the beginning to see whether fraud charges can be laid against Mr Piech, as the CEO and chairman has responsibility for management of company funds, which puts him in a position where charges can be laid.
VW’s former personnel manager Peter Hartz – who was convicted last month – has testified that he decided on his own on the secret bonuses for Volkert and that works council demands should be treated “generously” so that they backed company decisions.
Piech said he never heard that company money was used to pay for night club visits, foreign trips and prostitutes for worker representatives and if he had known he would have “stopped it.” He pointed out that Volkswagen’s accounting system had up to seven thousand accounts and the boss “doesn’t have to look in every one of them unless there are indications of misuse.’‘