A former German lawmaker and Volkswagen labour leader has been convicted in court after confessing that he used company money for prostitutes and lied to conceal his actions.

A Wolfsburg court found Hans-Juergen Uhl guilty of aiding breaches of fiduciary duty and using false affidavits in court proceedings and he was fined EUR39,200 ($US52,000), Bloomberg News reported.

The news agency noted that the trial was the second in a two-year probe into allegations Volkswagen managers approved the use of company funds to pay for extra bonuses, trips and prostitutes for labour leaders in exchange for favourable votes on policy.

“My conduct at the time is incomprehensible to me and contradicts all my personal values,” Uhl, 55, was reported to have told the court. “I can only explain it by the general atmosphere at Volkswagen at the time. I simply lost my footing.”

Bloomberg said the confession on Thursday by Uhl, a former Volkswagen works council representative and Social Democratic member of Germany’s lower house of parliament, brought the hearings to a swift end after the court had originally scheduled five days of hearings and summoned 13 witnesses, six of them prostitutes.

“The system made it difficult for you not to take advantage of what was offered,” Judge Heiner Dickhuth reportedly told Uhl after delivering his verdict, saying the payment for prostitutes was the lesser offence. “But using false sworn statements is a grave crime,” he said, according to Bloomberg News.

Bloomberg noted that the EUR39,200 penalty matched exactly what prosecutors asked for when they said Uhl betrayed the workers he represented and lied to keep his seat in parliament but members of the public attending the hearing reportedly complained the penalty was too light.