By on January 31, 2017

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Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, Volkswagen’s outgoing compliance chief, will receive at least $12 million for her time with the company — with the possibility for as much as $16.1 million (15 million euros). Hohmann-Dennhardt, who was brought on to get VW through its messy emissions crisis, was canned by the automaker last week. The company attributed the “amicable” split to a “disagreement in the understanding of responsibilities and future operating structures within the function she leads.”

New reports indicate that a central aspect of those disagreements involved Volkswagen’s upper management attempting to stop Hohmann-Dennhardt from exposing any additional information on how the emissions scandal transpired. 

According to Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, she routinely clashed with the company’s head of legal affairs, Manfred Döss. While technically a subordinate to Hohmann-Dennhardt, Döss is a close associate of the Porsche-Piech families and had been highly critical of her work as compliance chief.

Volkswagen did not initially mention that Hohmann-Dennhardt would be eligible for such a substantial payout — in addition to an 8,000 euro monthly pension — after leaving before the end of her contract, instead claiming that she is being paid what is owed to her. The large sum allegedly exists as compensation for the duration of her contract with VW and for her time at Daimler when Volkswagen recruited her.

“A contract being fulfilled is a normal process. I have nothing to hide,” she told Suedeutsche Zeitung in an interview.

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18 Comments on “Volkswagen’s Ex-compliance Chief Will Receive a Minimum $12 Million Severance, plus Pension...”


  • avatar
    lon888

    This reminds me of the market crash of 2008 when bank bosses walked away with multi-million bonus’s. Sick, just f’ing sick.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      May I ask what sort of deal you would have negotiated if you were Frau Hohmann-Dennhardt? It was obvious to everyone that they would try to throw her under the bus so how much would you have demanded to take the job if you were in her shoes.

      • 0 avatar
        Erikstrawn

        Agreed. It sounds like she was the one person trying to help them get right, which, unfortunately, meant calling a lot of the bigwigs on the carpet. They protected their own tail ends at the expense of the investors and customers, and she refused to cover up for them. They fired her, and now they’re going to jail while investors and customers pay what she’s owed for standing her ground.

        If that’s a correct summation, I think she deserves her severance.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I think she was brought in to clean up the mess and perhaps she did her job to well and those above her said enough is enough, seems like a lot of cash , I thought only US companies paid out this type of golden parachutes But I guess I was wrong about that.

  • avatar
    threeer

    If any of us (I assume) would fail to such a degree, we’d be shown the door and fired without so much as a plug nickel being deposited in our bank account. Maybe I need to hire a negotiator/rep to manage my career so I can epically screw up and STILL get paid millions to have done so.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Doesn’t sound like she was screwing up. It sounds like she was doing her job too well, and was likely to implicate upper management in the cheating. Now she gets a nice severance package (aka hush money) to go away and not embarrass anyone.

      VW has made greater efforts to expose its ties to the Nazis (even hiring someone for that position) than it has to expose the complicity of upper management in the emissions scandal.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      Ever heard of a contract?

      They aren’t paying her $12m severance out of the goodness of their hearts.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      The reason why executives get these types of payouts is rather simple. They go in knowing that their job security is tenuous at best. The contract they sign is set up so that the parameters covering early dismissal/termination are very specific and narrowly defined. If they are “fired” prior to the end of the contract and they are not within those narrow parameters, they walk with a ton of cash.

      Any job one does should have parameters covering work expectations and what constitutes grounds for dismissal. If one is fired under the terms of the contract then that is a different kettle of fish.

    • 0 avatar
      pdq

      I don’t think she failed at all. She was too good at her job and she wasn’t willing to look the other way when it came to senior management’s involvement in the coverup.

      With VW execs being warned not to travel abroad for fear of being arrested, my guess is she knows exactly where the bones are buried and who was involved (Piech/Porsche family members, etc) in this scandal.

      Senior management is probably quaking in their lederhosen at the thought that some foreign government will bring pressure to bear on her and she’ll name names. She has nothing to lose. THEY on the other hand, have everything to lose.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    What, she doesn’t get a Bugatti Chiron?

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Twelve million for a year’s service! You can bet that she dug up something juicy. The cash undoubtedly came with an iron clad NDA, and probably an agreement never to travel to the USA.

    • 0 avatar
      pdq

      The US government’s reach is long. She doesn’t necessarily have to travel to the US before she finds herself being interviewed by US government officials. And since criminal activity is the subject of the interview, I doubt a NDA would be enforceable. She could sing like a bird and VW couldn’t do a damn thing.

      She might also be willing to give background info that prosecutors could then use to bolster their case. All the US would have to do is wait for a plane with a VW exec to land in a “friendly” country for refueling and the exec could find himself being frog-marched off the plane by immigration officials. Eventually they’re going to be nailed for what they did.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I love the silence which blankets all after a pile of money is presented.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    VW really wants to quiet things down, but I’m not sure this is the way to do it.

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