GERMANY – The resignation today of Volkswagen’s human resources head Peter Hartz follows that of VW’s Pension Trust director Helmuth Schuster amid a bribery investigation.

The carmaker said in a statement that Hartz, during whose tenure the Pensions Trust was set up in 2001, tendered his resignation today. Hartz is a prominent figure who has also lent his name to unemployment legislation for the Schroeder government.

The trust is a German Pensionsfonds, meaning that unlike other pension vehicles, it does not face investment restrictions about equities or alternative investments like hedge funds. The fund serves 168,000 employees at the Volkswagen car group.

In May it said it had has completed a sweeping revamp of the way its €1.5bn in pension assets are invested.

Hartz’s resignation follows the departure of Schuster, the former head of VW’s Czech unit Skoda. Hartz and Schuster are described by the German press as “close colleagues”. The human resources chief was also a member of the board.

The matter has received wide coverage in the German media.

Hartz stated: “This concerns more than my person. It concerns the reputation of Volkswagen, for which I feel particularly responsible. In order to avoid further damage for company, I tendered my resignation to the supervisory board.”

In a statement the company said it respected Hartz’s decision. It is not yet clear whether the resignation has been accepted.

Board chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder said: “Speculation reached an extent that is not tolerable for the image of our enterprise, our products and our colleagues. We will provide a complete and thorough clear-up without consideration for offices and persons.”