VW Freezes Bonus Payment for Winterkorn

main source Marijan Murat DPA – VW then-CEO Martin Winterkorn in 2012 at Volkswagen press conference 49473358
Former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn. Source: DPA / Friso Gentsch

Volkswagen has frozen an outstanding bonus payment worth €3.5 million ($3.8 million) for deposed CEO Martin Winterkorn, Handelsblatt has learned from sources close to the company. The 69-year-old Mr. Winterkorn has agreed not to take legal action against this decision.

According to public broadcaster NDR, Mr. Winterkorn had even suggested this step to the company’s supervisory board himself until a legal settlement to the question of his guilt over the Dieselgate scandal is reached.

Volkswagen nevertheless is reserving the right to demand damages from Mr. Winterkorn, perhaps based on the fact that the former CEO failed to implement control mechanisms. According to internal documents, Mr. Winterkorn might not have taken sufficient measures to prevent the billion-dollar disaster.

Mr. Winterkorn stepped down as Volkswagen’s chief executive shortly after the diesel emissions scandal became public in September 2015. However, he officially only became a retiree on January 1 of this year and remains entitled to €1.1 million, or $1.2 million, in pension payments per year – €3,100 per day. He had been Germany’s best paid executive for years with an annual compensation of more than €15 million.

His retirement benefits have been the source of considerable controversy, with experts and politicians calling for new measures to curb executive pay.

Martin Murphy covers the steel, car and defense industries for Handelsblatt. To contact the author: murphy@handelsblatt.com

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