Former VW Union Boss Jailed for Corruption

Sept. 17, 2009
Sentence is three years

A German court on Spet. 17 ordered a former Volkswagen union boss to spend nearly three years behind bars for his part in a corruption scandal involving slush funds, exotic travel and prostitutes.

Klaus Volkert was jailed for two years and nine months after an affair that saw him pocket some two million euros (US$3 million) over 10 years in backhanders from management to smooth industrial relations at the car giant.

The court in Leipzig, eastern Germany, rejected Volkert's appeal against an original sentence handed down in 2008 as well as an appeal from personnel manager Klaus-Juergen Gebauer, who was sent down for one year.

The 2005 revelation that VW had given bonuses to key labour leaders and paid for some of them to take far-flung trips and see prostitutes rocked the firm -- Europe's biggest carmaker -- and tarnished the image of corporate Germany.

In December 2007, the former VW head of human resources, Peter Hartz, was given a two-year suspended sentence and fined after he acknowledged he had approved the payments to Volkert.

The architect of extensive labor reforms in Germany, Hartz avoided prison under an agreement struck with the prosecution that saw him give full testimony and admit paying bribes.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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