VW's Ferdinand Piech on Union Bribery Scandal: I Know Nothing!

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

According to AFP, former VW chief and current board member Ferdinand Piech told a German judge he knew nothing of a slush fund used to pay for union bosses' foreign airfare, accommodations, food, drink and (one assumes) expensive prostitutes.Oh, and a big fat lump sum to a union boss' mistress for God knows what. Piech made his denial at the trial of former Volkswagen personnel directors Klaus Volkert and Klaus-Joachim Gebauer, charged with inciting breach of trust and breach of trust. A steely-eyed Piech categorically denied any involvement in the pay-offs: "At no time during my mandate did I have knowledge of any such abuses." This despite the defendants' testimony that Piech was fully aware of the bribes, And a letter to Volkert signed by Piech, referring to the bribes while approving a "generous pension" for the personnel director. After receiving a wrist-slap for his role in the affair, former VW human resources director Peter Hartz told the court that he told Piech about Volkert's demands to hoik-up his pension (a.k.a. hush money), but only in "an informal manner." Hartz stressed that "details were not mentioned." So I guess Volkert's pension boost (a bribe for a bribe) and $3,8m worth of illegal payments to the union capos– filed under "miscellaneous board expenses"– were just "details."

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Cammy Corrigan Cammy Corrigan on Jan 10, 2008

    jurisb, I disagree that we should judge the company on their products alone. Sometimes, you have to take an ethical stance and say "no". I boycott many products due to my ethical values. P.S why is it whenever there's a story about Dr Piech, we always trot out the picture of him looking a James Bond villan who's camper than a row of tents?!

  • BlisterInTheSun BlisterInTheSun on Jan 10, 2008

    I have had the opportunity to work with European clients (Total Fina) and I never observed anything like bribery or illegal practices in their US operations. However, it is commonly accepted that this is a regular practice for many European companies, particularly with respect to operations in developing areas of the globe. For those of you who cry "no harm, no foul" please remember that this practice is illegal.

  • Shaker Shaker on Jan 10, 2008

    Nice "Dr. Evil" photo.

  • Lewissalem Lewissalem on Jan 10, 2008

    Looks like he's oogling an exotic dancer or something.