A German court will call former Volkswagen AG executives as witnesses in a €9 billion ($9.8 billion) investor lawsuit over the diesel emissions scandal to find out what the top brass knew. that brass is part of the so-called defeat device used in diesel cars to prevent emissions. tests.
Among the 86 witnesses to be called is Martin Winterkorn, former chief executive officer of VW, a spokesman for the Higher Regional Court in Braunschweig said by telephone. The witnesses were from all levels of VW management, he said. The judges on Friday [July 7] also ordered the disclosure of several documents.
A VW spokesman said the decision is expected, adding that the carmaker still considers the claims unfounded.
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The tribunal in 2021 gave investors a boost when it said that Europe’s largest carmaker could be held liable for not telling the markets about the device’s loss if top management knew about it. Any investors seeking damages for losses until July 9, 2012 must prove that the management board knew about the fraud, the court ruled at the time. From that date, VW must prove that its executives did not intentionally or negligently fail to disclose such information.
Since the scandal broke in 2015, VW’s main line of defense has been to blame a small group of engineers who allegedly colluded with the software and hid their tricks from the company’s leadership.
Winterkorn has been charged with the scam but his trial has not yet started due to health issues. Since he is a suspect in a criminal case, he may refuse to testify in court, making it unlikely that he will appear in the investor’s case. Other witnesses under investigation may also exercise these privileges.
The case is Deka Investment GmbH v. Volkswagen AG and Porsche Automobil Holding SE (3 Kap 1/16).
Photo: Former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn; photo credit: Rolf Schulten/Bloomberg
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