According to German prosecutors, Holger Haerter, the ex-Porsche SE chief financial officer, has decided to admit last week in court he was indeed guilty of market manipulation in relation to the botched attempt to control the Volkswagen Group.
Prosecutor Heiko Wagenpfeil said to the court in Stuttgart in his opening statement on the first day of trial that Haerter acknowledged he was anxious about the cost of VW AG’s shares and the financial brunt undertaken by Porsche SE. He did not disclose his unrest to the market when the holding company finally announced it was considering a takeover bid for Volkswagen. Both Haerter and former Porsche chief executive officer Wendelin Wiedeking have been accused of manipulating the VW group shares via statements made public back in 2008. The final statement announced that Porsche had harnessed control of 74.1 percent of VW, partly through options, and was looking for a 75 percent stake to secure a takeover. The announcement caused a so-called “short squeeze” and led to regulatory investigations and lawsuits filed by other investors that sought compensation worth around 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion) in Germany.
“Porsche claimed at the time it was disclosing the information to help short sellers sort their positions,” commented the prosecutor. “But Porsche didn’t disclose its own conflicting interests. From Mr. Haerter’s own statement you can already derive that the market was manipulated.” The German prosecutors consider both executives misled the investors as they denied much of the year that Porsche was ready to assume control of Volkswagen.
Via Automotive News Europe