FRANKFURT (AFP) - Volkswagen's top executives are willing to accept "sharp reductions" in their annual bonuses as the carmaker struggles to stem the fallout from its massive engine-rigging scandal, the regional state premier of Lower Saxony, where VW is based, said on Wednesday.
"Already in November, chief executive Matthias Mueller expressed an expectation that belts would have to be tightened," Lower Saxony prime minister Stephan Weil told the regional parliament in a regular update on the VW scandal.
The state of Lower Saxony is a major shareholder in VW, which is based in Wolfsburg, and is the biggest employer in the region.
"This is in line with the opinion of the regional government, which believes a clear signal is needed on this matter," Mr Weil said.
He said he had received a note from VW on Tuesday evening stating that "the supervisory and executive boards are in agreement that given the current situation, a signal should be sent regarding the issue of management board pay."
Various models were currently being discussed "which will represent a suitable and fair solution for everyone," Mr Weil quoted the note as saying.
"In consequence, this will lead to a sharp reduction in the variable remuneration," he said.
Mr Weil said he did not want to anticipate the outcome of the internal discussions, but that a proposal was likely to be discussed at a supervisory board meeting on April 22, ahead of the publication of VW's annual results on April 28.
At the centre of the controversy is the question whether VW executives are entitled to the performance-related bonuses for 2015.
After all, CEO Mr Mueller had been quick to prescribe belt-tightening to the carmaker's 600,000-strong workforce in the wake of the global scandal that erupted six months ago when it emerged that VW had installed emissions-cheating software into 11 million diesel engines worldwide.
Mr Mueller's predecessor, Martin Winterkorn, who quit as soon as the scandal broke last September, was the highest-paid executive in Germany for a number of years, earning around 15 million euros per year.