Braunschweig (dpa) - In the VW bugging affair with the supplier Prevent, prosecutors are now getting to the bottom of the circumstances of a possible arson attack on the house of the alleged in-house informer. This was stated by a spokeswoman for the Braunschweig public prosecutor.

"A possible connection to the fire proceedings is being examined by us," it said with a view to the parallel ongoing investigations into secretly recorded conversations about how to deal with the unpopular supplier. A senior Volkswagen employee is said to have recorded this in 2017 and 2018 - the car manufacturer then filed a criminal complaint.

The public prosecutor emphasized that details of this procedure and any connection with the fire could not yet be given. The online business magazine "Business Insider" had previously reported on investigations into the possible fire crime in the home of the alleged VW suspect.

According to this, the building in a small town should have caught fire in May and was completely destroyed. What kind of the examined connection to the wiretapping procedure could be and whether there might be concrete indications of a suspect or a motive for a corresponding arson, remained unclear for the time being.

Officially, the Braunschweig public prosecutors investigated the case of the intercepted Prevent consultations against unknown persons. According to the report, the resident of the burned down house is said to be a manager who has now been released from VW.

Volkswagen and Prevent have been in a bitter clinch for years. The auto supplier controlled by the Bosnian entrepreneurial family Hastor had temporarily suspended the supply of gearbox housings and seat covers in 2016, which forced VW to an expensive production stop for several days at the main plant in Wolfsburg and at other locations. The trigger was a heated dispute about prices and delivery conditions. There were similar conflicts in several other countries, and Prevent also fought with other car manufacturers.

The wiretapping that became known recently involved confidential audio material from a VW working group. Before the group terminated all contracts with Prevent in March 2018, company representatives are said to have deliberated for a long time as to whether and how the supplier could be "controlled", as it is called in the industry jargon.

The alleged mole has now been exposed internally - but no details are known about his identity and the exact motives. VW wants to hold back with statements while the public prosecutor's investigations are ongoing. But it is already clear: "Volkswagen was the victim of an illegal wiretapping attack."

Prevent, in turn, had no knowledge of the recordings, a spokesman for the group said. One was certainly not involved in their creation and now see themselves damaged, which is why legal steps are being examined. In the past, the company had accused VW of having shadowed and spied on employees by order.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200810-99-115237 / 2