Former Skoda chief Helmuth Schuster gave evidence in court on Tuesday, as part of the latest VW scandal trial.

Schuster played a key role in the scandal and was implicated in bribing suppliers and in corruption in India which led to Volkswagen having to abandon plans to set up a plant in Andra Pradesh. He has been brought as a witness in the trial of chief Klaus Volkert and former personnel manager Klaus-Joachim Gebauer who are accused of inciting breach of trust at the company. Lawyers want to find out if practices that involved paying for works council members to take luxury trips and visit prostitutes were sanctioned by senior management.

According to Schuster's evidence yesterday, reported in Automobilwoche, there was evidence that management had smoothed the way for works council agreement on major decisions. "The agreeable atmosphere was at the forefront," said Schuster. Because of the VW Law, the agreement of the works council was necessary, explained Schuster, but he was regularly reassured by several VW board members that the works council should be 'happy'.

Schuster did not make any references to then and current supervisory board chairman, Ferdinand Piëch, whose role is increasingly being put in the spotlight. One member of senior management, former personnel chief, Peter Hartz, has already been found guilty in the affair. He was sentenced a year ago to a two-year suspended sentence and a fine of EUR576,000 for having approved EUR2.6m in payments for prostitutes and trips for Klaus Volkert. The issue now is whether this was an individual acting alone or whether it was part of a so-called 'Volkswagen System'.

A former VW doctor also gave evidence yesterday that he had been told by Gebauer of a high level investigation into financing of trips for the VW works council in January 2004. That doctor had treated Gebauer and said that the then CEO of VW, Bernd Pischetsrieder, had been informed.

Former Volkswagen AG chief financial officier, Bruno Adelt, testified yesterday that he never discussed irregular use of company funds with Ferdinand Piëch who was chief executive until 2002. He did uncover some irregularities after this date, however.

Piëch is scheduled to appear in court on 9 January and Bernd Pischetsrieder, chief executive from 2002 to 2006, is scheduled to testify on 15 January.