BERLIN. In 2008, Volkswagen was supposed to unveil an engine plan that sparked a diesel emissions scandal, a German court said Thursday when it outlined its views on a trial filed by investors against the automaker.
Volkswagen, which admitted to fraudulent testing of diesel engines in the United States in 2015, said it had complied with all of its disclosure obligations and any claims for compensation were unfounded.
The recognition in 2015 triggered the biggest crisis in Volkswagen’s history and has cost the German company over 32 billion euros ($ 38 billion) to date in car repairs, fines and legal fees.
The scandal dates back to 2008, around the time Volkswagen began using diesel emission control software, which was later ruled illegal when it was discovered by US regulators.
Whether investors can claim compensation for a fall in Volkswagen’s share price after the scandal was exposed depends on whether it can be proven that any of the company’s executive board members knew the plan was fraudulent, a regional court in Braunschweig said Thursday more high authority.
Volkswagen says it’s not hiding anything.
“Volkswagen’s board had no credible knowledge that the software used in US diesel vehicles contained a countermeasure device that was prohibited by US law until summer 2015,” the company said in a statement.
“This case only concerns whether Volkswagen has met its disclosure obligations to shareholders and the capital market. We are confident that this is the case. Thus, all the claimed claims for damages are unfounded, ”the message says.
A test case was brought against Volkswagen and its controlling shareholder, Porsche Automobil Holding SE, the fund manager of Deka Investment GmbH.
The law firm representing Deka Investment could not be reached for comment.
The Braunschweig court said that prior to 9 July 2012, due to the expiration of the statute of limitations, the plaintiffs had to prove that the Volkswagen board member knew the plan was fraudulent.
Since that date, Volkswagen must prove that management’s refusal to issue a statement in 2008 was neither deliberate nor gross negligence.
The court stated that the parties have until the end of January to comment on the preliminary conclusion of the court and provide evidence of what knowledge the leadership had.