FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen's biggest shareholder, the German state of Lower Saxony, called on Tuesday for investigators to get to the bottom of allegations regarding a widening corruption scandal at Europe's largest carmaker.
VW has been hit by allegations that former staff sought kickbacks for work in India and Angola and set up a network of front companies to get supply contracts.
German prosecutors are investigating and VW last week called in auditors KPMG to review the matter.
"There apparently was criminal energy at work and that's why it is very important that the audit runs parallel to the investigations of the Brunswick state prosecutor's office," Lower Saxony Economics Minister and VW supervisory board member Walter Hirche said on German television.
Lower Saxony owns about 18 percent of Volkswagen.
Volkswagen has declined to comment on details of the investigation.
A company spokesman also declined to discuss a report by Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the company for years offered improper inducements to senior labor representatives in return for their support on key issues.
The affair is putting pressure on the company's head of personnel, Peter Hartz, who has had dealings with some of the officials currently being investigated.
Czech VW subsidiary Skoda's former personnel chief Helmuth Schuster, who is under investigation for the allegations, was an adviser to Hartz.
The VW personnel chief was also a close partner of works council chairman Klaus Volkert, who resigned abruptly last week after the alleged irregularities surfaced and said he had not been involved in any criminal activities.
The spokesman reaffirmed comments from the company last week that Hartz would remain head of personnel at VW.
"Nothing has changed," he said.
Volkswagen, a former state-owned company whose legendary VW Beetle became a symbol for the German economic miracle, plays a leading role in the country's labor relations.
If the KPMG probe uncovers corruption within the ranks of the company, it would rock the foundations of Germany's balanced system of co-determination between management and labor.