DaimlerChrysler's embezzlement affair turns into mudslinging

Automaker hopes internal probe will be completed soon

Stuttgart. A quick end is unlikely in the embezzlement affair at DaimlerChrysler's sales organization DVCD (DaimlerChrysler Vertriebsorganisation Deutschland).

DVCD managers of the group are now being investigated on suspicion of embezzlement and corruption, the district attorney's office in Stuttgart said.

At least 13 apartments in Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart were searched and documents were seized.

Five of the 11 people under investigation by the authorities have been suspended from their posts at DaimlerChrysler.

One of them is Siegbert Zeh, head of the Leipzig branch. A sixth DCVD employee working within the audit department has been on sick leave for more than two weeks.

"This is not going to spread like wildfire. Of more than 18,000 employees only a handful of black sheep are implicated," said a DaimlerChrysler manager.

DaimlerChrysler launched its own internal investigation into the affair.

"I hope that it is only a matter of weeks rather than months until we can present our investigation report," said a DaimlerChrysler spokeswoman.

According to the insider, the dismissals are a mopping-up operation above all else. The source says that Mercedes Car Group boss Eckhard Cordes is getting rid of political opponents in the "former Hubbert and Zetsche country."

Despite DaimlerChrysler's hopes to resolve the matter as quickly as possible, a long legal battle is looming.

Sources say ex-managers Juergen Fahr and Walter Missing are planning to take legal action and to sue for compensation.

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