HANOVER, Germany — Continental A.G.'s supervisory board has agreed to terminate Wolfgang Schaefer's position as member of the executive board and chief financial officer, effective immediately, in light of reports linking him to the ongoing investigation into Volkswagen A.G.'s use of illegal "defeat" devices in diesel engines.
"We are investigating the case rigorously and thoroughly and are cooperating unconditionally with the Hanover public prosecutor's office," Continental said Nov. 17.
"In accordance with our philosophy of zero tolerance, we investigate any suspicious activity," Supervisory Board Chairman Wolfgang Reitzle said at an extraordinary board meeting convened on that day.
According to multiple news reports in Germany, former Conti CEO Elmar Degenhart also is under investigation. hairman
According to the public prosecutor's office in Hanover, the focus of the investigation is suspected accessory to fraud, breach of trust and a failure to fulfill supervisory duties.
Prosecutors reportedly seized documents at Conti's offices in Hanover on Nov. 17 following Conti's announcement regarding Mr. Schaefer.
Prosecutors reportedly are looking into Conti's role as a supplier of engine components to VW for diesel engines that masked excessive exhaust pollution using illegal software.
Nikolai Setzer, chairman of the executive board, will assume Mr. Schaefer's responsibilities — which include finance and controlling, information technology, compliance, law and intellectual property — on the executive board.
Katja Duerrfeld, head of finance, controlling and information technology for the ContiTech business area, will take over interim responsibility for group finance and controlling, and information technology.
"Integrity is an integral part of our corporate culture and is anchored in our code of conduct, which applies worldwide and to all Continental companies," Mr. Setzer said, adding that he will be "directly responsible" for group compliance and group law and intellectual property, with new heads for the functions to be appointed under the executive board.
Mr. Schaefer was appointed Continental's chief financial officer in January 2010; his appointment was extended in 2019 until December 2024.