Former Volkswagen Exec Convicted In Corruption Scandal

BERLIN (AP) — A former personnel executive at Volkswagen AG's Skoda unit was convicted and given a suspended 10-month suspended prison sentence on Tuesday for his involvement in a corruption scandal at the German automaker.

An administrative court in Wolfsburg, where VW is based, found Helmuth Schuster guilty of corruption, breach of trust and being an accessory to fraud in a case that involved an expensive sports car and a brothel visit, the German news agency DAPD reported.

He was fined €15,000 ($19,600).

The court found that Schuster committed breach of trust by arranging a job at Skoda's German unit for the girlfriend of a former VW personnel manager, Klaus-Joachim Gebauer, that involved her doing no actual work for the company.

It convicted him of corruption for accepting €100,000 in 2005 from an Indian business partner — money that was then spent on a Lamborghini sports car. A visit to a Prague brothel along with a doctor, who then billed the visit to Volkswagen, resulted in the conviction for being an accessory to fraud.

Both the defense and prosecutors said they wouldn't appeal Tuesday's ruling.

The case went to trial after the Wolfsburg court in February issued a so-called order of punishment, a German legal tool that is equivalent to a conviction if accepted by the defendant, which would have seen Schuster given a one-year suspended sentence.

However, the defense — while accepting the conviction itself — pressed for a lesser sentence in order not to endanger his future job prospects. Schuster was not required to appear at the hearing.

Schuster, 56, was one of several former managers to face punishment in the VW scandal, which centered on privileges improperly received by employee representatives.

Gebauer was convicted last year of breach of trust. Others convicted in the scandal include Klaus Volkert, once the powerful head of VW's employee council, and former VW personnel chief Peter Hartz.