Volkswagen’s former and current chief executive officers (CEOs), as well as the chairman of the company’s Supervisory Board, have been charged with market manipulation, the public prosecutor’s office in Brunswick announced on Tuesday.
The prosecutor’s office stated that charges had been filed against Martin Winterkorn and Herbert Diess, the former and current CEOs, as well as Hans Dieter Poetsch.
The three Volkswagen managers are accused of “deliberately informing the capital market too late about substantial payment obligations from the discovery of the diesel scandal.”
Over the next weeks, the responsible court in Brunswick would decide whether the cases should be brought before court. In view of the scope of the investigations and the charges based on them, “no prognosis can be made” for how long this review would take, the prosecutor’s office said.
Following the announcement by the German prosecutor on Tuesday, Volkswagen’s shares fell noticeably by almost three percent and were the biggest loser in Germany’s top-30 DAX index.
In the diesel scandal, which was revealed by the U.S. authorities in September 2015, the German carmaker illegally manipulated the exhaust levels of millions of its vehicles worldwide.
The German prosecutor stressed that the defendants had been “aware of the considerable financial consequences resulting from the explosive nature of the issue,” but had “deliberately refrained from the necessary ad hoc announcement in order to maintain the stock market price of VW shares.”
The 636-page indictment document is assuming that the three Volkswagen managers gained “full knowledge of the facts and the resulting substantial damage” between May and July 2015.
The prosecutor noted that each of them should have “initiated the necessary ad hoc disclosure from that point in time, which did not happen.”
Instead, Volkswagen’s strategy was to reach a deal with the U.S. authorities, in which the wording should refer to “technical problems but not to fraud against authorities and customers.”
However, the deal did not materialize and the U.S. authorities published the facts. Enditem