Departure hinted at for top two at VW

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The Independent Online
WOLFSBURG (Reuter, Bloomberg) - German prosecutors investigating the Volkswagen industrial espionage scandal are convinced that data from the rival Opel car firm was entered into VW computers, according to the influential magazine Wirtschaftswoche.

The magazine also quoted an unnamed member of the Darmstadt prosecutor's office who believes that Jose Ignacio Lopez de Arriortua, VW's production director, and chairman Ferdinand Piech will no longer be working for the group by Christmas.

'I can bet you anything that come Christmas this year, Lopez and Piech will no longer be at Volkswagen,' the official was quoted as saying.

The Darmstadt office said it could not confirm the report and Volkswagen was not available for comment. 'In general I can tell you that nothing at all is certain before investigations have been concluded,' Dorothea Holland, the state prosecutor, said.

The Darmstadt office has been investigating allegations that Mr Lopez and other former employees of Opel and its parent, General Motors, took confidential documents when they moved to VW in March. Mr Lopez has denied the charges.

The data are said to have included lists of goods to be purchased, various calculations and strategic programmes for parts suppliers.

Separately, a Volkswagen spokesman said that external auditors investigating the allegations of document theft would be completely free in carrying out their inquiries. He said the media would be informed extensively about the outcome of the investigation by KPMG Deutsche Treuhand Gesellschaft.

Volkswagen shares closed in post- bourse trading at DM393.50, down DM6.50 from the official close, after rising by DM4.80 during the official session.

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