VOLKSWAGEN has rejected official allegations that its bosses manipulated the market in connection with the diesel emissions scandal that erupted in 2015.
On Wednesday, it was revealed that chief executive Herbert Diess, chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch and former CEO Martin Winterkorn had been charged by Braunschweig public prosecutors with deliberately informing markets too late about the costs to the company that would result from the scandal.
But today the manufacturer issued a statement saying the allegations were unfounded and that it strongly rejected them.
Manfred Döss, head of legal affairs at Volkswagen AG, said: ‘The company and the persons responsible have fulfilled all their reporting obligations under capital markets law.
‘Volkswagen AG will defend itself with all available legal means against these unjustified allegations. If there is a trial, we are confident that the allegations will prove to be unfounded.’
The board said it ‘had no specific reason at any time to believe that the company could face financial consequences that would require a disclosure to be made to the capital markets right up until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a “Notice of Violation” on 18 September 2015, which attracted extraordinary media attention. The information available to the company was regarded as being not material.’
It added that the board’s view was supported by US-based legal advisers, and said it believed that until September 18, 2015, discussions with US authorities would result in a negotiated resolution that wouldn’t have important enough financial consequences so no ad hoc disclosure to capital markets was needed. It also said that the violation notice was ‘completely unexpected’ and ‘a paradigm shift’.
Döss said: ‘Volkswagen AG will therefore defend itself vigorously against the allegations and is confident that legal proceedings will lead to the conclusion that the allegations are unfounded.’