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Investigators raid VW offices as tax fraud suspicion lingers

Prosecutors and investigators from tax authorities have raided the offices of several senior officials from German carmaker Volkswagen. The move was part of an effort to scrutinize the firm in a tax evasion probe.

Investigators on Tuesday night searched the offices of VW finance chief Frank Witter and human resources head Karlheinz Blessing, a Volkswagen spokesman confirmed Wednesday. In contrast to earlier reports, the offices of VW Supervisory Board Chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch were not raided, the spokesman added.

Prosecutors and investigators taking part in the search confiscated documents and a number of computers, the Reuters and DPA news agencies reported.

The reports noted that the raids were related to suspicions of overpayments for VW Works Council chief Bernd Osterloh, the carmaker's spokesman said. Osterloh's office was also searched.

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Neither the works council nor the prosecutor in Braunschweig were immediately available for comment. A person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters the tax authorities were acting on suspicion of tax evasion.

Works council chief Bernd Osterloh was earlier reported to have earned up to €750,000 ($885,000) a year, a sum believed to be too high by investigators.

It was revealed earlier that German prosecutors were investigating current and former executives at Volkswagen on suspicion that they paid the works council chief an excessive salary. In Germany, wasting corporate funds is legally a breach of fiduciary duty.

Over-remuneration could result in overly high operating expenses and the payment of too little tax.

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hg/jd (Reuters, dpa)

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