Volvo Cars Chief Executive Officer Hakan Samuelsson will settle a German investigation into corruption allegations linked to his tenure as MAN SE’s CEO by paying 500,000 euros ($668,000) to charity.
“I would have preferred to go through with the trial as I don’t have any doubt about my innocence,” Samuelsson said in a phone interview. “But this wouldn’t have been compatible with my role as Volvo CEO, and I want to leave Germany with passably positive impressions.”
The probe was opened last September in Munich after the former head of MAN’s audit department testified in a related trial that he had informed Samuelsson in a 2006 meeting about “possible corrupt practices” regarding business in Slovenia.
MAN, Europe’s third-largest truckmaker, agreed to pay 150 million euros in 2009 to resolve an inquiry into possible bribes paid by its truck and turbo units. Investigators raided 59 company sites and seven private homes looking into allegations of illegal conduct from 2002 to 2009. The probe yielded several indictments against employees and managers.
“I have an agreement that the case will be closed with a payment of 500,000 euros to social institutions,” Samuelsson said today.
Thomas Steinkraus-Koch, a spokesman for the prosecutors, confirmed the talks with Samuelsson to pay the money to charity. The settlement will only be final once the payment is actually made, he said.
Samuelsson, a 62-year-old Swede, stepped down as MAN CEO in November 2009 after more than four years at that post and nine years with the company. During his tenure as CEO, the truckmaker reported record profits. Samuelsson was set to receive severance pay of 7.23 million euros, according to the Munich-based company’s 2009 annual report.
He became Volvo Cars CEO last October to replace Stefan Jacoby. Samuelsson had joined the automaker’s board in 2010 when Chinese manufacturer Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. purchased Volvo from Ford Motor Co. for $1.8 billion.
Samuelsson has also reached an agreement with MAN over the truckmaker’s financial claim against its former chief, with Samuelsson offering to pay 1.2 million euros in damages to his former employer, Andreas Lampersbach, an MAN spokesman, said.
“He will make the payment in recognition of his corporate-governance responsibility as the former CEO,” Lampersbach said in a phone interview today.
The settlement still needs to be signed by the two parties, and then approved by shareholders at next year’s annual meeting.