Stuttgart - German prosecutors have extended a probe into
market manipulation to all members of Porsche's supervisory board, including
carmaker Volkswagen's chairperson, Ferdinand Piech.
Prosecutors are investigating the 12-member supervisory
board of the German holding company, which owns about 51% of Volkswagen's (VW)
shares, for suspected "aiding of market manipulation," a spokesperson
said, declining to be more specific.
The move follows a decision by prosecutors last December to
charge the former chief executive of Porsche, Wendelin Wiedeking, and his
former finance chief, Holger Haerter, with market manipulation of VW shares
during Porsche's botched 2008-09 takeover attempt of much larger VW.
Prosecutors in Stuttgart, where Porsche is based, have been
investigating since 2009 whether the company misled investors in 2008 when it claimed
it had no plan to acquire VW.
Porsche has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Some German and US investors say that throughout 2008
Porsche camouflaged its plans to buy VW and secretly piled up its holding.
In March 2008, Porsche dismissed as "speculation"
talk that it intended to take over VW.
Seven months later, Porsche said it controlled 42.6% of VW's
common shares and held options for another 31.5% of the stock it had not
Porsche's statement caused VW shares to surge to €1 005
within days, briefly making VW the world's most valuable company as
short-sellers raced to buy back stock they had borrowed to bet that VW shares
Porsche's attempts to buy VW backfired and pushed it to near
bankruptcy. Instead of buying VW, the company ended up selling its sports car
business, Porsche AG, to VW.
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