German automotive supplier Continental announced Wednesday that it will replace Wolfgang Schaefer as Chief Financial Officer with immediate effect. Nikolai Setzer, Chairman of the executive board, will take charge of Schaefer’s responsibilities. The decision to replace Schaefer was taken after an investigation into the illegal use of defeat devices in diesel engines. The company’s supervisory board took the decision at an extraordinary meeting. “These changes have been taken in the context of the already known investigations by the public prosecutor’s office in Hanover, regarding the illegal use of defeat devices in diesel engines and shortcomings in the ongoing investigation by Continental,” Continental said in a statement. “Continental is investigating the case rigorously and thoroughly and is cooperating unconditionally with the public prosecutor’s office,” it added.
Continental’s premises in Hanover and Regensburg had been searched in 2020. It was part of an ongoing investigation into emissions cheating devices. Katja Duerrfeld, who is working as the head of finance, controlling and IT for Continental’s ContiTech business, will be in charge of finance, controlling and IT for the group on an interim basis until a successor is named. Schaefer had been named CFO at Continental in 2010. In 2019, his appointment was extended until 2024. The focus of the investigation is suspected accessory to fraud, breach of trust and a failure to fulfil supervisory duties, the Hanover prosecutor’s office said Thursday. The people who have been under investigation also include a former board member of Continental’s Powertrain unit. The prosecutors seized documents at Continental Thursday, according to reports. According to reports, Continental is the world’s sixth-largest automotive supplier. Its sales to automakers stood at $29.68 billion in 2020. Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals from the company and left intact rulings that let state and local governments sue over its engine tampering.