Ger­man pros­e­cu­tors in­ves­ti­gat­ing VW’s Mueller over scan­dal

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - DAVID MCHUGH AND DAVID RIS­ING

Stuttgart pros­e­cu­tors said Wed­nes­day they’re in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether Volk­swa­gen CEO Matthias Mueller and two oth­ers, in­clud­ing Mueller’s pre­de­ces­sor, ma­nip­u­lated mar­kets by not re­leas­ing in­for­ma­tion about VW’s diesel cheat­ing soon enough.

The probe re­lates to Mueller and the oth­ers’ roles as ex­ec­u­tives in 2015 at Stuttgart-based Porsche Au­to­mo­bil Hold­ing SE, the hold­ing com­pany that con­trols Volk­swa­gen.

Pros­e­cu­tors in a state­ment con­firmed re­ports that Ger­many’s Fed­eral Fi­nan­cial Su­per­vi­sory Author­ity filed a com­plaint in 2016 ask­ing pros­e­cu­tors to in­ves­ti­gate ex­ec­u­tives from the hold­ing com­pany.

They said they’re in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether the ex­ec­u­tives de­layed re­leas­ing in­for­ma­tion about VW’s ma­nip­u­la­tion of soft­ware to cheat on emis­sions tests, and its pos­si­ble fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions on the hold­ing com­pany. Ger­man se­cu­ri­ties law re­quires com­pa­nies to broadly and quickly dis­close in­for­ma­tion that could af­fect de­ci­sions to buy or sell the com­pany’s shares.

Porsche SE said in a state­ment that “we are con­vinced that we have duly ful­filled our cap­i­tal mar­ket dis­clo­sure re­quire­ments.”

In ad­di­tion to Mueller, who is strat­egy and de­vel­op­ment chief at the hold­ing com­pany, those un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion are Hans Di­eter Poetsch, who is CEO of the hold­ing com­pany as well as VW board chair, and Martin Win­terkorn, the for­mer Volk­swa­gen and hold­ing com­pany chief ex­ec­u­tive who quit af­ter the scan­dal broke in 2015.

The Porsche hold­ing com­pany is dis­tinct from Porsche sports car brand, which is now part of Volk­swa­gen it­self. The hold­ing com­pany’s share­hold­ers are mem­bers of the Piech and Porsche fam­i­lies, de­scen­dants of au­to­mo­tive pi­o­neer Fer­di­nand Porsche.

Volk­swa­gen has ad­mit­ted equip­ping around 11 mil­lion cars world­wide with soft­ware that sensed when cars were on test stands and turned emis­sion con­trols up, then turned the con­trols off dur­ing every day driv­ing to im­prove per­for­mance.

It has agreed to at least $16 bil­lion in civil set­tle­ments with en­vi­ron­men­tal au­thor­i­ties and car own­ers in the United States, and to a $4.3bil­lion crim­i­nal penalty. Seven Volk­swa­gen ex­ec­u­tives have been crim­i­nally charged in the U.S. The com­pany also faces in­vestor law­suits in Ger­many.

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