Probation and acquittal required for VW managers

Released on 27.09. 2021

  • The infidelity process against three former and one incumbent Volkswagen personnel manager is entering its final phase. Photo: Julian Stratenschulte

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A criminal case is to clarify whether Volkswagen has received excessive payments and bonuses to works councils for years. In the pleadings, the prosecution and defense stuck to their points of view.

Braunschweig (dpa) – In the infidelity process against three former and one incumbent personnel manager at Volkswagen, the public prosecutor has demanded suspended sentences and monetary conditions.

With regard to the remuneration of leading works councils If the accused had acted contrary to duty and willful, said public prosecutor Sonja Walther on Monday in the Braunschweig regional court. All defenders of the executives – including the ex-Group HR directors Horst Neumann and Karlheinz Blessing – pleaded for acquittal. (Ref .: 16 KLs 85 / 19)

On the fifth day of the negotiation, the parties argued again about appropriate payment for executive works councils if they have been released for many years to do their voluntary work. The public prosecutor is convinced that Volkswagen has paid excessive remuneration and bonuses to the long-standing Group Works Council Chairman Bernd Osterloh and other high-level employee representatives. The prosecution put the damage to the largest European car manufacturer at more than 5 million euros.

Infidelity in a particularly serious case

The public prosecutor’s office saw itself essentially confirmed by the hearing in the Braunschweig town hall. She accuses the HR managers of infidelity, sometimes even in particularly serious cases. For ex-HR director Neumann – from 2005 to 2015 in office – she therefore demanded a suspended sentence of one year and ten months. In addition, he is supposed to pay 1.5 million euros for a charitable cause.

For Blessing’s successor, the prosecutor applied for ten months probation and the payment of 200. 000 Euro. The other two HR managers should have two years probation and 750. 000 euros or six months on probation and 30. 000 Received euros. All defense lawyers, however, demanded acquittals for their mandates. Subsequently, the defendants also use their closing remarks to firmly reject the allegations of infidelity.

Remuneration inappropriately lavish?

The court must now decide whether the influential members of the employee representative body between 2011 and 2016 Inappropriately lavish remuneration were released. In years of high profits and bonuses, for example, the works council chairman Osterloh received total remuneration of up to 750. 000 Euro. The allegations are not directed against him, however, against Osterloh himself there is a separate aid proceedings. As a witness in the trial, he had emphasized: “I was not involved in any payment determination that affects my person.”

Osterloh’s extraordinary career was often the focus of the negotiations. Again and again the question was raised about how someone should be paid who was once a so-called complaint handler in vehicle production and later became the head of the works council of a global corporation. Since May of this year Osterloh has been Chief Human Resources Officer at VW-Nutzfahrzeug-Holding Traton in Munich an increased salary was justified, although it was incorrect ». The defense denied this and said the audited salaries were in order. The lawyers stated that the works councils concerned had each had “considerable careers” and often negotiated “on an equal footing” with management.

The verdict is due on Tuesday (9th , originally the procedure was planned until the end of October.

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