Austrian anti-corruption authorities have accused a member of the supervisory board of the Volkswagen Group’s holding company, Porsche SE, of money laundering in connection with a decades-old fighter jet deal.
Siegfried Wolf is one of the two accused “entrepreneurs”, several people know the situation.
The case involves “hidden assets” worth about 6.8 million euros, as well as funds exchanged for gold and kept in Switzerland, the Austrian state prosecutor dealing with economic crime and corruption said in a statement.
A personal spokesman for Wolf, 65, declined to comment on the allegations.
Wolf, who also sits on the supervisory board of German car suppliers Schaeffler and Vitesco, is not under scrutiny for the first time this year.
Der Spiegel news portal reported in April that Wolf had personally written to Vladimir Putin and offered to help rebuild the Russian auto industry with the help of his connections in Germany.
At the time, VW called the letter from the Porsche SE supervisory board member “irritating” – but Wolf has retained all his positions in the German car industry.
Porsche SE said it was “aware” of the accusations against Wolf, adding that the allegations relate to “circumstances” that have nothing to do with his role on the company’s supervisory board “either in terms of content or timing”.
The Porsche-Piech family has a controlling stake in the Volkswagen car company through the holding company Porsche SE, and some of the voting rights in the newly listed Porsche AG.
In the German system, two bodies operate: the executive body, which manages the company on a day-to-day basis, and the supervisory board, which supervises the former’s work and provides strategic advice.
Auto supplier Vitesco, whose supervisory board is chaired by Wolf, said it would not comment on its “private business activities”.
The Schaeffler family, which controls Vitesco and the car supplier that bears its name, said it was “innocent until proven guilty.”
Wolf, a native of the province of Styria, has played a major role in Austrian domestic politics for many years.
Recently, he became a prominent figure in the investigation into government corruption conducted by state prosecutors during the chancellorship of Sebastian Kurz, with whom he had a close relationship.
He is an outstanding supporter of the conservative Austrian People’s Party, which Kurz led until 2021, and for many years he was a member of the board of directors of ÖBAG, the Austrian state investment fund.
Wolf has not been charged in connection with the government corruption probe, but investigators have said they are looking into a €630,000 tax write-off that appears to have been written to him by Thomas Schmid, a powerful former finance ministry official and confidant. Course.
Wolf still sits on the boards of more than a dozen Austrian companies.
It first came to prominence in the 1990s and 2000s under Canadian-Austrian billionaire Frank Stronach, founder of the auto parts business Magna.
Farkas played a key role in Magna’s expansion and developed strong relationships in Eastern Europe, and particularly in Russia.
In 2010, he became the president of Oleg Deripaska’s industrial and engineering concern Russian Machines, and in 2012, the European division of Sberbank, the Russian state lender.
Until the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he was on the board of Deripaska’s car manufacturer Gaz.