Lopez cleared for pounds 30,000 donation

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The Independent Online
HAMBURG (agencies) - The Hamburg prosecutor's office has abandoned its action for alleged perjury against Jose Ignacio Lopez de Arriortua, Volkswagen's controversial production director, in exchange for a charitable donation of DM75,000 ( pounds 30,000).

VW's second-in-command must pay the sum to a fund for handicapped children.

Mr Lopez was accused of making false or incomplete statements in connection with an ongoing case brought by his former employer Opel, the German subsidiary of General Motors, for alleged industrial espionage.

Mr Lopez left Opel for VW, taking several employees with him.

Opel claims its former employees, in effect, stole company secrets on behalf of Volkswagen.

The Hamburg prosecution arose after Mr Lopez brought a libel case against Der Spiegel, the news magazine, denying that he had solicited or possessed pictures of Opel's Vectra model. Four months later, before a Frankfurt court, he said the opposite.

The Hamburg prosecutor's office said that Mr Lopez had not told the truth, but held that it was a minor matter.

The legal deal does not affect the industrial espionage investigations that are continuing in the US and Germany.

The Volkswagen board of directors welcomed the decision to abandon the case and Mr Lopez's acceptance of the solution. But its lawyers maintained he had not lied on oath and said he accepted the solution in the company's interest.