Volkswagen regards the internal investigation of the diesel scandal with the compensation settlement with the former CEO Martin Winterkorn and other former top managers as complete.

The deputy chairman of the supervisory board Jörg Hofmann pointed out on Thursday at the virtual general meeting of VW that the investigation commissioned by the supervisory board into the causes and responsible for the fraud after the 2015 scandal relating to the emissions scandal was "by far the most extensive and costly investigation in a company in the German economic history "was.

After more than five years, "this investigation is now complete."

Carsten Germis

Business correspondent in Hamburg.

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The comparison is based on these investigations, which were carried out by the law firm Gleiss Lutz. As a result of the investigation, it is clear to the Supervisory Board that Winterkorn and the former Audi boss Rupert Stadler have "violated their duty of care under stock corporation law." The basis is negligent breaches of duty identified by Gleiss Lutz.

In the run-up to the Annual General Meeting, several shareholders had announced that they would refuse to approve the compensation package because they criticized the scope of the payments and the type of agreement.

The amount of the compensation appears "also in view of the damage incurred and the remuneration paid," said Ingo Speich from Deka Investment, for example.

“From our point of view, the diesel scandal has not yet been adequately cleared up.

The supervisory board has done too little to provide information and transparency. "

The highest compensation payments to date

Janne Werning from Union Investment also criticized that Volkswagen had only half learned its lesson from the diesel scandal. "VW is playing a global pioneering role in green electromobility," it says in its statement. "But the bad corporate governance is still the Achilles heel of the group." In questions from shareholders, the ongoing proceedings against VW and the criminal proceedings against Winterkorn and other former VW managers before the regional court, which began in September, were repeatedly raised Referred to Braunschweig. Despite the criticism, approval of the settlement was considered certain early on because the main owners had already approved it on the supervisory board.

When asked by a shareholder, Hofmann said that it was not in the company's interest not to enter into the settlement just yet. "In view of the comprehensive investigation of the diesel issue, it is unlikely that ongoing proceedings will result in new findings," said Hofmann. “The Supervisory Board and Management Board are therefore convinced that it is in Volkswagen's interest to conclude the settlement agreements at this point in time.” VW reached an agreement on the liability settlement with Winterkorn, Stadler and other previous managers at the beginning of June. The total, consisting of contributions from liability insurers and personal contributions from former managers, amounts to a good 288 million euros. Winterkorn himself pays 11.2 million euros, ex-Audi boss and executive board member Rupert Stadler 4.1 million euros.These are the highest compensation payments in economic history to date.

"Become the world market leader for e-cars"

"The total damage of over 32 billion euros caused by the diesel issue clearly exceeds the contributions," said Hofmann.

However, this damage can only be attributed to a comparatively small extent to Winterkorn and Stadler.

The deputy chairman of the supervisory board, who is also the chairman of IG Metall, defended the settlement by pointing out that this would give the company the freedom to focus on the challenges of transformation with all of its might.

CEO Herbert Diess did not address the diesel past in his speech. He reaffirmed his goal: "To become the world market leader for e-vehicles." 2020 marked "a turning point in the population" in electromobility. At that time, the federal government doubled the purchase premium for electric cars with the Corona stimulus package. "Since then we have seen a significant boost in electromobility," said Diess. In the first half of the year, the group sold 171,000 fully electric cars, twice as many as in the previous year.

With a view to the path to autonomous driving, he named the greatest challenge as the competition with the global American tech giants such as Tesla and Google. Here VW wants to attack with its software division Cariad. "With Cariad we want to develop the leading software alternative to Tesla and Google by 2030," said Diess. Diess sees the shift towards data-driven business models as crucial so that classic car manufacturers can compete with tech companies, especially from the United States and Asia. "We are facing the greatest transformation since the switch from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles at the beginning of the 20th century."