VW investors seek $11bn in damages over emissions-cheating scandal
Around 1,670 claims have been lodged against Volkswagen (VW) by its shareholders. They claim the automaker should have informed them about the diesel emissions problem before regulators did in 2015.
Angry investors are seeking €9.2 billion ($10.7 billion) in compensation for the carmaker’s share price drop as a result of the Dieselgate scandal.
According to the presiding judge, Christian Jaede, it is likely that only some of the claims will be taken into account due to the statute of limitations.
The case is so complicated that the court does not want to pin itself down, with many legal questions to be clarified, he told the Braunschweig higher regional court as proceedings got underway.
The plaintiffs say the company failed in its duty to inform investors about the financial impact of the scandal, which became public only after the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a “notice of violation” on September 18, 2015.
“VW should have told the market that they cheated and generated risk worth billions,” a lawyer for the plaintiffs, Andreas Tilp, was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“We believe that VW should have told the market no later than June 2008 that they could not make the technology that they needed in the United States,” he said.
The company’s shares lost up to 37 percent of their value in the days after US authorities exposed illegal levels of pollution emitted from Volkswagen diesel cars.
VW has admitted systematic emissions cheating, but denies wrongdoing in matters of regulatory disclosure.
“This case is mainly about whether Volkswagen complied with its disclosure obligations to shareholders and the capital markets,” VW lawyer Markus Pfueller told the court. “We are convinced that this is the case.”
In June, Germany slapped Volkswagen with a $2-billion fine, one of the highest ever imposed in the country. The fine was ordered by the prosecutor’s office in the German city of Braunschweig. It came on top of some $20 billion in fines imposed on the carmaker in the US.
Three years ago, Germany’s biggest car manufacturer admitted that it had equipped vehicles with software that turned on emissions controls when they were undergoing anti-pollution tests in the US. Those controls were later reduced during normal driving.