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VW bedeviled by bonus pay debate

The apparent refusal of some executives at Volkswagen to forego their performance-related bonuses in the wake of the automaker's biggest-ever scandal has peeved some Germans in both public and political spheres.

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Volkswagen managers debate board bonuses

"How far away from reality can a top executive be?" an op-ed in Germany's conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung prodded.

The question touched upon widespread feelings of frustration and incredulity shared by Germans as members of VW's supervisory board executive committee debate whether it's appropriate to pay out million-euro bonuses to top executives as the company struggles to scrape together enough money to pay for the fallout of its emissions-cheating scandal.

On Tuesday, the German news agency DPA reported that managers had expressed they could be willing to accept a partial cut to their bonuses. VW's former CEO, Martin Winterkorn, had already said he would favor foregoing his entire bonus.

Winterkorn is the only VW executive to resign in the wake of the engine-rigging scandal, but since he is still technically employed by the car maker, he is entitled to a bonus.

It wasn't clear which executives were hesitant to accept a cut in extra pay, but their reluctance has triggered strong responses from politicians and pundits who note VW is in the middle of cost-cutting to save money for expected legal fees and penalties.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble chimed in, saying that "there are discussions where it is hard to believe that the people concerned fail to comprehend that this is not compatible with certain values."

cjc/sri (AFP, dpa)

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