VW exec bonuses could be slashed due to diesel scandal

The top nine VW execs made about $80 million in 2014.

To get a sense of the scale of Volkswagen's diesel-emissions scandal, let's look at how much the automaker's top executives have been making with their very handsome bonuses. Nine of VW's top executives made about $80 million in 2014, with about $61 million of that in discretionary pay, according to Reuters. To put that into context, VW's executive bonuses for 2014 were about 50 percent more than Mercedes-Benz's, and that automaker doesn't have an emissions-cheating scandal to contend with.

VW's executive bonuses for 2014 were about 50 percent more than at Mercedes-Benz.

The German state of Lower Saxony, which holds about 20 percent of VW's shares and is VW's second-largest stockholder, is now calling for those bonuses to be either reduced or cut altogether, Reuters said, citing people familiar with the process. VW declined comment to Reuters.

The scary thing is that whether or not the bonuses are paid out, the difference may amount to a rounding error compared to what VW may lose because of the scandal fallout. Last month, a group of 278 institutional investors sued VW for $3.6 billion, alleging that the company didn't properly disclose details about the diesel-emissions scandal to shareholders. And the numbers get bigger. In January, Volkswagen was sued by the US Justice Department for damages worth as much as $18 billion, and that number was later revised upward to as much as $46 billion.

Regardless, a number of VW executives are no longer around to collect the extra pay. VW CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned last September, shortly after the diesel-emissions scandal broke, and was replaced by Matthias Mueller. Last month, Michael Horn stepped down as CEO of Volkswagen Group of America.

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