FRANKFURT -- Orders for Volkswagen cars in its home market of Germany have remained solid despite negative publicity over a bribery scandal at Europe's biggest automaker, its chief executive told a newspaper.
The corruption affair has damaged VW's image, Bernd Pischetsrieder told the Braunschweiger Zeitung in an interview printed on Friday, but he added: "New orders in Germany are even better than expected at the moment."
Pischetsrieder said a decision on who will replace Peter Hartz, who resigned as VW personnel director on July 8 to take responsibility for irregularities in his department, might not be made until November.
Hartz, an ally of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and the architect of German labor market reforms, quit over allegations that his underlings sought bribes, dealt with the company via front companies and paid for dubious perks for labor leaders.
No evidence has emerged to implicate Hartz in the matter, Pischetsrieder said, adding: "Mr Hartz has assured me that this will remain the case".
At VW's request German prosecutors are investigating possible fraud and breach of trust by two former personnel managers accused of improperly diverting company funds.
Volkswagen also hired KPMG to perform an independent audit.
The head of the company's powerful works council, Klaus Volkert, has also resigned, acknowledging that he was a business partner of the two suspects but insisting he did not enrich himself at the company's expense.
Volkswagen and its works council have rejected accusations in the media that Volkswagen provided improper inducements to senior labor leaders in return for their support on key issues.
But Pischetsrieder said he would recommend that the supervisory board's audit committee ask prosecutors to review these allegations as well.