Porsche SE’s former chief executive officer has denied accusations of manipulating Volkswagen stock while the holding company attempted to overtake Volkswagen back in 2008, a strategy that actually backfired.
The trial revives an earlier scandal at the automaker that is today entrenched in the massive diesel emissions scandal, the biggest business crisis in its 78-year history. German prosecutors say Wendelin Wiedeking planned for the holding that owned sports car manufacturer Porsche to try and assume control of the bigger Volkswagen wile publicly stating it was doing the opposite. The same charges have been brought against former finance boss Holger Haerter. The ex-managers of Porsche SE could be sent to prison for up to five years if they are found guilty of violating securities trading laws, a criminal offence. “I will fight the accusations raised against me with vigor,” commented Wiedeking. “I am innocent,” he added on Thursday, the day the case was opened in the regional court in Stuttgart where Porsche is headquartered. Both and Haerter, who also denied any wrongdoing on his behalf, are the highest automotive managers in Germany to face trial.
Today Porsche SE, a publicly traded holding company, has remained the largest stakeholder in Volkswagen AG, the biggest automaker in Europe, controlling 52.2 percent of its ordinary shares. Following months of denying a strategy to acquire Volkswagen, Porsche SE announced in October 2008 it had options to control almost three quarters of VW, sending the shares up in the sky and for a short while making it the world’s most valuable company – but the stance triggered the accusations of market manipulation.