- Annual report details how millions in severance also possible
- That payout hinges on how board defines his termination
Martin Winterkorn, engulfed by a diesel-emissions scandal at Volkswagen AG, amassed a $32 million pension before stepping down Wednesday, and may reap millions more in severance depending on how the supervisory board classifies his exit.
After Winterkorn disclosed Wednesday that he had asked the board to terminate his role, company spokesman Claus-Peter Tiemann declined to comment on how much money the departing CEO stands to get. Volkswagen’s most recent annual report outlines how Winterkorn, its leader since 2007, could theoretically collect two significant payouts.
Winterkorn’s pension had a value of 28.6 million euros ($32 million) at the end of last year, according to the report, which doesn’t describe any conditions that would lead the company to withhold it. And under certain circumstances, he also can collect severance equal to two years of “remuneration.” He was Germany’s second-highest paid CEO last year, receiving a total of 16.6 million euros in compensation from the company and majority shareholder Porsche SE.
While the severance package kicks in if the supervisory board terminates his contract early, there’s a caveat. If the board ends his employment for a reason for which he is responsible, then severance is forfeited, according to company filings.
The supervisory board’s executive committee said in a statement Wednesday that Winterkorn “had no knowledge of the manipulation of emissions data,” and that it respected his offer to resign and request to be terminated. It also thanked him for his “towering contributions” to the company.
Winterkorn, 68, said in his statement Wednesday that he was stunned to learn of the scope of alleged misconduct occurring at the company. U.S. officials said Sept. 18 the carmaker had cheated during tests of diesel-powered vehicles sold since 2009.
“As CEO I accept responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines and have therefore requested the supervisory board to agree on terminating my function as CEO,” he said. “I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.”
The annual report also mentions another piece of his pension: He can use a company car in the years that benefit is being paid out.