BERLIN Feb 22 Lawmakers from Volkswagen's home
region called on Wednesday for an inquiry into the sudden
departure of the German carmaker's compliance chief last month,
saying they were concerned the supervisory board was not
overseeing the business effectively.
Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt was hired in late 2015 to help
Europe's biggest carmaker reform itself following its diesel
emissions cheating scandal. But last month, after little more
than a year in the job, she abruptly left.
Some analysts and investors have long questioned whether
Volkswagen, a business tightly controlled by its
founding Porsche-Piech clan and its home state of Lower Saxony,
could effectively reform itself.
"(We fear) the state (Lower Saxony) and the supervisory
board are only insufficiently carrying out their ownership role
and controlling task," lawmaker Mathias Middelberg wrote in a
letter to Stephan Weil, the prime minister of Lower Saxony.
Spokespeople for Volkswagen (VW) and Weil did not
immediately respond to requests for comment.
Middelberg leads a delegation of 31 Lower Saxony lawmakers
from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU)
in Germany's lower house of parliament.
Weil sits on VW's 20-strong supervisory board which has the
power to appoint and dismiss executives.
In his letter dated Feb. 21 and seen by Reuters, Middelberg
referred to media reports that said Hohmann-Dennhardt's role as
compliance chief was destined to fail.
Her hiring coincided with the appointment of Manfred Doess
as head of legal affairs at VW. Doess is also compliance chief
at Porsche SE, the holding company of the
Middelberg said in his letter that Doess appeared to have
more clout in the aftermath of the emissions scandal than
Hohmann-Dennhardt even though he was her subordinate.
Middelberg asked Weil to commission independent experts to
investigate how the jurisdictions of Doess and Hohmann-Dennhardt
were defined, whether a possible conflict of their duties was
discussed by the supervisory board and whether the former
compliance chief was granted a monthly pension of 8,000 euros
($8,411) in addition to 12 to 15 million euros in severance pay.
Spiegel Online first reported Middelberg's letter.
Germany is holding federal elections in September 2017 and a
regional vote in Lower Saxony in January 2018.
($1 = 0.9511 euros)
(Reporting by Jan Schwartz and Andreas Cremer; Editing by Mark