Former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn must also stand trial on charges of market manipulation. This was announced by the competent chamber of the Regional Court of Braunschweig on Thursday (24 September). Sept. 2020). This means that there will be a criminal trial against the ex-manager not only in a parallel fraud case, but also due to allegedly informing investors too late.
Winterkorn allegedly failed to inform investors in time
The court declared that Winterkorn was to have "despite knowledge of the installation of an inadmissible defeat device (…) and of the considerable financial risk that had been looming since spring 2015 (…), Winterkorn is alleged to have failed to inform the capital market in good time". The Braunschweig public prosecutor’s office’s indictment was therefore admitted to the main hearing without being changed.
Diess and Potsch also accused of market manipulation
The prosecutors had also accused the current Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess and the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Hans Dieter Potsch, of market manipulation. In their case, however, the proceedings were dropped in return for monetary payments of 4.5 million euros each. Potsch was the carmaker’s CFO at the time the emissions scandal came to light.
After the manipulation of millions of diesel engines became public knowledge in September 2015, VW’s share price temporarily plummeted. Investors see themselves swindled and are seeking billions in damages in a civil lawsuit.
Winterkorn’s lawyer, Felix Dorr, had initially "with all firmness" rejected: "Prof. Dr. Winterkorn had no early knowledge of the targeted use of banned engine control software in U.S. diesel cars", said the lawyer. "Essential information that would have enabled him to accurately classify already known problems with the US diesel engines did not reach him at the time." The public prosecutor’s office and the district court now saw this differently.
Accused with other ex-VW managers
Winterkorn must also stand in the dock in Braunschweig on charges of commercial and gang fraud, along with four other VW executives, some of them former. Originally, the prosecutor’s office was here "only" been out on serious fraud. The district court, however, is of the opinion that in gross mabstab "Buyers of certain vehicles from the Volkswagen Group about their condition, in particular the use of a so-called defeat device in the engine control software exchanged" were.