VW market manipulation probe could end this year, German prosecutors say

VW market manipulation probe could end this year, German prosecutors say

June 14, 2018 14:09 CET

BRUNSWICK, Germany — German prosecutors could wrap up an investigation into alleged market manipulation by senior Volkswagen Group executives this year, the prosecutors said, after ordering the automaker to pay 1 billion euros to settle claims of emissions cheating.

On Wednesday, Brunswick prosecutors fined VW for management lapses in failing to prevent cheating of diesel-emissions tests, one of the biggest ever penalties imposed by German authorities against a company.

The 1 billion euros is not included in the 25.8 billion euros ($ 30 billion) that the automaker has so far set aside to cover costs related to its 2015 admission that it cheated U.S. diesel emissions tests, and so it will hit earnings, analysts at Evercore ISI said.

German prosecutors are also investigating whether senior VW executives including Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch and CEO Herbert Diess informed investors in a timely fashion about the size of potential fines faced by the automaker for cheating U.S. emissions tests.

The company denies any wrongdoing by its executives.

“On market manipulation, it is possible that there will be a decision this year. A decision does not necessarily mean bringing charges, it could mean closing the proceedings,” Brunswick prosecutor Klaus Ziehe said at a news conference.

In a filing submitted to a Brunswick court on Feb. 28, VW argued it did not violate ad hoc disclosure rules because it did not understand the scope of potential fines and claims faced by the company.

Four days before U.S. regulators blew the whistle on VW, Poetsch – the company’s chief financial officer at the time – saw the potential financial risk from emissions violations at 150 million euros, the court filing shows.

U.S. authorities disclosed VW’s systematic emissions cheating on Sept. 18, 2015, sparking the biggest business scandal in the company’s history and triggering a crackdown on emissions across the industry.

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