Volkswagen AG on Monday rejected
suggestions that former chief executive Ferdinand Piech may have
known at an early stage about improper spending involving its
The allegations arose at the trial in Braunschweig of former
employee council leader Klaus Volkert, who is charged with inciting
breach of trust.
Volkert is a key figure in an investigation revolving around
whether VW employee representatives received illegal privileges,
including lavish foreign trips paid for by the company. The
investigation started after Volkswagen alerted prosecutors to
On Monday, prosecutors called for former VW chief financial
officer Bruno Adelt and two other managers to testify about
allegations that Adelt discussed high spending on works council
travel at an early stage with Piech, then CEO and now VW's
supervisory board chairman. The two other managers allegedly were
then tasked with an internal examination of an account that covered
Prosecutor Ralf Tacke said the claims had come from a journalist,
but did not offer details. Presiding Judge Gerstin Dreyer said her
court wanted to hear the witnesses, but did not immediately set a
Volkswagen swiftly issued a statement rejecting assertions that
there was a review between 1997 and 2002 of the account through
which the works council expenses were cleared.
``There was no such review because there were no indications'' of
improper activities, it said. ``The company and its chief executive
at the time therefore had no knowledge of the misappropriations.''
Piech, who is not under investigation in the case, told
prosecutors last year that he knew nothing of alleged improper
spending at the company.
In the first trial in the scandal, former VW personnel chief
Peter Hartz admitted in January to having awarded ``special
bonuses'' worth some 1.9 million euros (US$2.8 million) in VW funds
to Volkert in an effort to curry favour.
Hartz, who has said Piech and other board members were not aware
of the payments, was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and