Volkswagen’s chief executive Herbert Diess faces criminal charges of market manipulation in Germany relating to the car maker’s so-called dieselgate scandal.
Herbert Diess, as well as former chief executive Martin Winterkorn and chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch were accused by German prosecutors of intentionally failing to inform investors in time about the financial impact of the scandal.
The decision, made in the city of Braunschweig, near Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg base, is the first time Diess himself has faced criminal charge in relation to the scandal.
Volkswagen came back punchily this afternoon, however, calling the allegations “groundless”.
Hiltrud Dorothea WernerVolkswagen board member for legal affairs: “Today, the Braunschweig Public Prosecutor’s Office informed Volkswagen AG of the charges against the company and individual defendants in proceedings under the Securities Trading Act.
“The company has meticulously investigated this matter with the help of internal and external legal experts for almost four years.
“The result is clear: the allegations are groundless.
“Volkswagen AG therefore remains confident that it has fulfilled all its reporting obligations under capital markets law.
“If there is a trial, we are confident that the allegations will prove to be unfounded. Furthermore, the presumption of innocence applies until proven otherwise.”
The dieselgate scandal has cost Volkswagen, which owns Audi, more than €30bn (£26bn) since it admitted in 2015 to using illegal software in its diesel engines to cheat anti-pollution tests. Former Audi boss Rupert Stadler was arrested in Munich last year in relation to the scandal, and faced further charges in July this year.
Reuters reported this morning that Volkswagen’s board – except its chairman – would convene immediately to discuss the indictment of its chief executive.
The board had already discussed the possibility of an indictment, Reuters said.
More to follow