Litigation funder Bentham Europe plans a global shareholder claim against Volkswagen

Madeline Ratcliffe
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Most analysts agree the cash VW set aside is not enough (Source: Getty)

Bentham Europe has announced it is coordinating a united shareholder action for some of the largest VW investors around the world.

Volkswagen's share price has collapsed from around €160 to under €100, while its market capitalisation has dropped by around €25bn (£18bn) since it emerged two weeks ago it had used software to deceive emissions tests in the US.

Bentham, a third-party litigation funder, said as a result of this, it is "in discussions with institutional investors worldwide to fund a shareholder action in Germany against Volkswagen," alleging breaches of the German securities law over an eight year period from 2007 to 18 September 2015, and had received world -wide interst from investors.

“The intention will be to instruct lawyers to commence the necessary proceedings as soon as possible,” the company said.

Under the German Securities Trading Act, shareholders are entitled to seek compensation or damages. Bentham invited shareholders who acquired at least 10,000 VW shares from 1 January 2007 to contact them about the claim.

Chief investment officer Jeremy Marshall said in a statement today:

“Shareholders – who saw billions wiped off the value of Volkswagen in 2 days – deserve more than just an apology for what appears to be long-running and concerted cheating of the system.”

Yesterday UK law firm Leigh Daymade made what is thought to be the first legal move against Volkswagen in the wake of the emissions cheating scandal, as the car giant admitted almost 1.2m UK cars may have been fitted with the cheat device.

The company said in a statement: "Step by step, affected customers will be contacted, with details of a process to get their vehicles corrected in the near future. In the meantime, all vehicles are technically safe and roadworthy."

Leigh Day is calling for a “full refund” for the costs customers paid, thinking they were buying clean diesel cars, as well as compensation for other related losses.

Most analysts agree the €6.5bn VW said it would set aside to deal with the costs of the scandal, which involves some 11m cars worldwide is not enough. VW could face a maximum fine from the EPA alone of $18bn (£11.9bn), which would almost wipe out its cash balance. Not surprising then that Betway are offering 20/ 1 odds that the company will cease trading by the end of 2016.

Meanwhile, German prosecutors said today they had not launched a formal inquiry against former VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn, contrary to what they announced on Monday.

The official press statement released on Monday by public prosecutors in Brunswick was “formulated incorrectly,” a spokesman said. No specific individuals are the focus at the moment in the prosecutors' investigation into the pollution-cheating scandal.

Complaints have been filed against Winterkorn, but there is no formal inquiry as yet.

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