FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen said on Thursday it was warned about an associate of one of its managers more than a year before a probe into fraud and breach of trust at VW began, but was convinced the allegations were not serious.
Volkswagen confirmed a report on Thursday saying it had received warnings in November 2003 about a business associate of Helmuth Schuster, one of the former managers at the centre of a local state prosecutor's investigation.
Schuster is co-operating with the state prosecutor.
"There were warnings about people around Schuster," a VW spokesman said, confirming a report to be broadcast on NDR television's Panorama magazine program later on Thursday.
He said, however, Schuster had managed to dispel doubts about certain of his business partners.
Panorama said it had seen emails to VW's Czech unit Skoda warning the company about one of Schuster's partners. Schuster was a personnel manager at Skoda.
The Brunswick state prosecutor's office told Reuters the former Schuster associate was not currently part of its investigation.
Panorama said the individual concerned had told the program he bore no responsibility in the current scandal surrounding VW.
The affair has already claimed more than one senior victim at Volkswagen including the group's human-resources chief Peter Hartz, who resigned last week to take responsibility for irregularities by employees that came to light.