By on August 13, 2020

We don’t have to tell you that organizations will frequently go to great lengths to protect themselves, sometimes pursuing unseemly tactics. German investigators are now checking to see if that extends to instances of murder after the body of a suspended Volkswagen employee was found in a burned-out automobile on Monday.

Prosecutors in Braunschweig announced Wednesday that they are looking into the matter, hoping to determine whether or not links exist to a dispute between VW Group and Bosnian supplier Prevent. Volkswagen claimed it was “the victim of an illegal eavesdropping attack” after someone recorded its plans to end its relationship with the parts supplier. Dozens of covert recordings, believed to have been taken by a male staffer, chronicled the process between 2017 and the start of 2018.

Authorities now worry the person found in the burned vehicle may have been their man.

Officially, the presumed victim hasn’t been outed as an automotive employee. VW said it would be irresponsible to speculate on a possible death among its ranks this week. Yet local outlet Helmstedter Nachrichten claimed the person was indeed a Volkswagen employee who had worked extensively with the Bosnian supplier group, Reuters reports. It also claimed that he was the individual suspended for recording business meetings, which included at least one conversation with Prevent, in addition to the VW talks.

From Reuters:

The Braunschweig prosecutor’s office declined to comment on whether the dead person was a Volkswagen employee, adding that it had not yet been possible to formally confirm the identity of the deceased.

The Braunschweig prosecutor’s office, however, said its staff were now looking at whether the death was linked to the employee at the center of the VW eavesdropping probe, and whether there were links to an arson attack on the VW staff member’s house in May.

Preliminary findings by forensic staff, who examined the body Tuesday, had shown no obvious signs of “outside interference” which may have caused the death, the prosecutor’s office said.

Volkswagen and Prevent butted heads in 2016 following a disagreement over pricing, encouraging Car Trim and ES Automobilguss (both subsidiaries of Prevent Group) to hold a bunch of gearbox components and seat covers hostage. This created a production shortage for VW and a lot of bad blood between the companies, especially since it was well publicized in the European media. A legal battle followed, with both firms claiming to be the victim.

[Image: Gyuszko-Photo/Shutterstock]

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