Court says VW should have released engine blueprint that triggered dieselgate

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FILE A technician repairs a VW panel in the electrical identification assembly line of German automaker Volkswagen. 3 cars in Dresden, Germany on June 8, 2021. REUTERS / Matthias Rietschel

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  • VW says its obligations have been fulfilled and claims are unfounded
  • Admissions in 2015 sparked “dieselgate” scandal

BERLIN, Nov. 18 (Reuters) – Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) should have made public in 2008 the engine plan that sparked its diesel emissions scandal, a German court said on Thursday, as it presented its point of view on a test case brought by investors against the automaker.

Volkswagen, which admitted in 2015 to defrauding U.S. diesel engine tests, said it had fulfilled all its disclosure obligations and that any claim for compensation was unfounded.

The 2015 admission sparked the biggest crisis in Volkswagen history and cost the German company more than 32 billion euros ($ 38 billion) in vehicle repairs, fines and legal fees so far .

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The scandal dates back to around 2008, when Volkswagen first started using software to monitor diesel engine emissions, which was later declared illegal when discovered by US regulators.

Whether investors can claim compensation for the fall in Volkswagen’s share price after the scandal was exposed depends on whether it can be proven that a member of the company’s board of directors knew the plan was cheating, the Braunschweig Higher Regional Court said on Thursday.

Volkswagen says it has not withheld anything.

“The Volkswagen board had no reliable knowledge that the software used in American diesel vehicles contained a defeat device that was prohibited by US law until the summer of 2015,” he said. in a press release.

“This case only concerns the question of whether Volkswagen has fulfilled its disclosure obligations to shareholders and the capital market. We are convinced that this is the case. All claims for damages are therefore unfounded,” said he declared.

The test case was brought against Volkswagen and its majority shareholder, Porsche Automobil Holding SE, by fund manager Deka Investment GmbH.

A law firm representing Deka Investment could not be reached immediately for comment.

The Braunschweig court said that before July 9, 2012, due to a statute of limitations, it was up to the plaintiffs to prove that a Volkswagen board member knew the plan was cheating.

Since that date, Volkswagen has to prove that the failure to make a statement by management in 2008 was neither willful nor grossly negligent.

Parties have until the end of January to comment on the tribunal’s preliminary finding and provide evidence of what knowledge management had, the tribunal said.

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Reporting by Maria Sheahan, Jan Schwartz, Madeline Chambers, Ilona Wissenbach Editing by Mark Potter

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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