The chief of Infineon Technologies' memory chip division has resigned over an investigation into motorsports sponsorship-related payments.
The company's supervisory board has already accepted Dr Andreas von Zitzewitz's resignation. Infineon CEO Wolfgang Ziebart will take over the memory products business, Infineon said.
Zitzewitz and a former Infineon manager. Harald Eggers, are said to have been given bribes and kickbacks over three years totaling 259,000 euros (£175,00). These were to do with contracts relating to motor race sponsorship.
The whistle was apparently blown to the German authorities by an Udo Schneider, the managing director of BF Consulting.
A previous Infineon CEO, Ulrich Schumacher, forced out in March, 2004, was keen on motorsport sponsorship and signed a 3-year deal to supply the Ferrari F1 team with automotive electronic technology in 1999. Infineon terminated all motor sport sponsorship arrangements as far as possible at the time of Schumacher's departure.
According to Reuters, Infineon offices and the homes of some executives were raided by the German authorities on Friday. Reuters also mentions a German magazine's suggestion that prosecutors suspected Zitzewitz 'accepted money from a Swiss PR agency in return for winning it Infineon suppliers as clients.'
Zitzewitz stepped down to spare the company the burden of the ongoing investigation, and so he could concentrate on the expected court case, Infineon said.
Calling the allegations "severe," Infineon said it would cooperate fully with authorities, but said that Infineon itself was not under investigation.
Zitzewitz, whose division is responsible for around 40 percent of Infineon's revenue, was unreachable for comment.
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