The outgoing head of Audi AG's works council denied on Tuesday that he was part of an alleged kickback and bribery scheme being investigated at Volkswagen AG. Xaver Meier also said his decision to retire as Audi's top labor representative was not related to the probe. Meier announced last week that he planned to step down at the end of the year, and said his decision was made before prosecutors included him in the investigation.
"I made the decision a long time ago to retire after my 60th birthday," Meier said. "I deny all allegations against me in connection with my work as labor representative."
Audi is VW's luxury car unit. Last week, prosecutors in Braunschweig said they had extended their investigation in the Volkswagen case to cover Meier, Bernd Sudholt, a former deputy employee representative at VW and currently manager of the VfL Wolfsburg soccer club, and a third person whom they did not identify.
The three are under preliminary investigation for suspected breach of trust, prosecutors said. Spokesman Klaus Ziehe said there was a suspicion that they participated in events financed by VW "that may not have had a business character."
Volkswagen called in prosecutors earlier this year to investigate allegations that former managers set up fake companies in countries including India and the Czech Republic to defraud local authorities seeking business with VW.
They are also looking into whether members of Volkswagen's employee council received illegal privileges, including lavish foreign trips at the Wolfsburg-based automaker's expense.
Nine people are now under investigation. No charges have been filed.
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