German prosecutors have filed charges against Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, company chairman Hans Dieter Potsch, and former CEO Martin Winterkorn, regarding market manipulation linked to VW’s emissions cheating scandal.
The trio is accused of intentionally withholding information from the company’s shareholders about the financial risks of the scandal that erupted in 2015, the prosecutors’ office in the northern city of Braunschweig said on Tuesday. As the result, the carmaker’s stock price could have been improperly influenced, prosecutors charge.
The German automaker denies that the executives failed to fulfil their obligations to inform investors, calling the allegations “groundless.”
“If there is a trial, we are confident that the allegations will prove to be unfounded,” VW management board member for legal and integrity, Hiltrud Werner, said as cited by media.
Current CEO Diess’ attorneys rejected the charges, arguing that he joined the automaker in July 2015 when he was in no position to foresee that the diesel issues would have such financial consequences that were relevant for the capital market.
In 2015, VW admitted that it had equipped millions of diesel vehicles worldwide with software that could defeat emissions tests. In 2016, the company agreed to a $14.7 billion settlement with the US government. Dieselgate has so far cost the car giant around €30 billion ($33.6 billion).
Former CEO Winterkorn, who resigned when the scandal broke, was charged with fraud in Germany in April. Earlier, the United States filed charges against Winterkorn.
Volkswagen stocks dropped more than 2.5 percent on Tuesday, the most in five days.
For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section