Pischetsrieder will use VW bribery allegations to attack 'cronyism'

Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder is putting a positive spin on the bribery allegations swirling around the company.

The scandal is giving Pischetsrieder the chance to eliminate "cronyism" involving management, the works council and politics that has blocked the implementation of the chairman's plans since he took the top job more than two years ago, a company source said.

"This way we are solving some of our biggest problems," Pischetsrieder said on June 29.

Former Skoda personnel chief Helmuth Schuster resigned last month following reports of alleged payments from potential suppliers.

Klaus Volkert resigned last week as head of VW's works council and member of the supervisory board after media reports said he may be linked to the scandal. He has insisted that he has done no wrong.

In addition to Schuster, Automobilwoche has learned that the Brunswick state prosecutor is looking at Hans-Joachim Gebauer, who worked in VW's department for labor market concepts. Gebauer also was responsible for making Volkert's travel arrangements.

Sources said there will be more resignations in the next few days. One of those people expected to leave is Peter Hartz, VW personnel chief and former Skoda board member.

Launched at VW's instigation, the investigation is examining possible fraud and betrayal of confidence. Pischetsrieder has promised close cooperation with investigators.

"We will make sure that this is completely cleared up," he said.

VW has hired independent auditors KPMG to review the allegations.

As the investigation continued, Pischetsrieder prepared 250 senior managers for further changes in strategy, which he mapped out during a meeting of VW's top management on July 1.

A day earlier, Wolfgang Bernhard, chairman for the VW brand, pointed out conspicuous deficiencies in product planning and quality management at a company assembly in Wolfsburg.

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