updated 7/8/2005 11:45:45 AM ET 2005-07-08T15:45:45

Volkswagen AG’s personnel chief has submitted his resignation, the company said Friday — a move that comes amid an investigation of bribery and kickback allegations at Europe’s biggest automaker.

Peter Hartz offered his resignation to the supervisory board, which still has to decide whether to accept it, Volkswagen said.

“With this step, Dr. Hartz accepts the political responsibility for the irregularities of individual employees which have come to light after investigation by Volkswagen internal auditors in recent weeks,” the statement said.

Hartz, one of Germany’s best-known business executives, lent his name to a controversial reform of unemployment benefits after heading a commission for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a former VW board member.

But he has come under pressure since news broke that German prosecutors are looking into bribery allegations against two personnel executives at the company’s Skoda subsidiary, amid reports that one of them took money from Volkswagen suppliers.

The company’s top labor representative, Klaus Volkert, also resigned abruptly.

Hartz worked closely with Volkert under Germany’s system of labor-management cooperation to find ways to save jobs in Germany.

On Friday, he issued a statement saying that “I have invested all my strength in the building and securing of competitive jobs in our company.”

“It is to be understood that I accept overall responsibility for what is done in my area of responsibility and take the consequences personally,” the statement, issued through Volkswagen’s public relations office, said.

The company filed criminal complaints last week against Klaus Schuster, a former board member of its Skoda unit who resigned June 15, and Klaus-Joachim Gebauer, who was fired from VW’s personnel department.

Prosecutors have confirmed that they are conducting an investigation into suspicions of bribery. Gebauer’s attorney has said he was acting at Hartz’s behest.

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