German VW Works Council Deputy Chairman May Plead Guilty

Volkwagen’s unwanted reputation as a purveyor of sexual favors continues.  Bernd Sudholt, former deputy chairman of the auto giant’s Works Council, is hoping to avoid the fate of his former boss, Klaus Volkert, who this past February received a two-year, nine-month prison sentence for his acceptance of 2.6 million Euros (about US$3.8 million) in illegal payments from VW management over the course of a decade.  Sudholt and his lawyer reportedly want to cut a deal with German prosecutors in order to avoid the embarrassment of a public trial.

Sudholt stands accused of aiding and abetting embezzlement in four cases.  Thus far he has disputed these charges.  Yet fighting them would seem a long shot bet, given the context of a far wider probe that wound up convicting not only Volkert, but also VW personnel director Peter Hartz.  Among the allegations, Volkswagen paid for sex holidays for certain labor representatives; prostitutes and insurer-paid Viagra prescriptions were included in the bargain.  Under the reported plea agreement, Sudholt would receive a fine of about 30,000 Euros in exchange, but no sentence.  Nobody ever said keeping a workforce happy was easy.  (Handelsblatt, 4/16/08).