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VW sued for €3.3bn in Germany over diesel scandal

Mar 15 2016 12:43
Karin Matussek

Berlin - Volkswagen was sued for €3.3bn over the cover-up of its polluting diesel engines, its biggest legal challenge in Germany to date after a wave of lawsuits in the US centered on the scandal.

The case was filed Monday in Braunschweig on behalf of 278 institutional investors from around the world, lawyer Andreas Tilp said by telephone. The suit claims VW failed to publish information about the emissions scandal in a timely manner, he said.

The case comes almost six months after Volkswagen admitted it installed software in its diesel vehicles to cheat emissions testing, a scandal that’s rippled through the global car industry. Sixty-five cases are pending in Braunschweig over the issue, the court said last week. The company also faces a multitude of lawsuits in the US as well as criminal probes in various countries.

Because Volkswagen has refused to take part in settlement negotiations and won’t waive a statute of limitations defense, it was necessary to file the lawsuit, Tilp said.

Eric Felber, a spokesperson for Wolfsburg-based VW spokesperson, declined to comment on the lawsuit until the company had seen a copy of the complaint.

VW stock fell as much as 2.2% to €113 in Frankfurt trading and was down 1.2% at 11:10.

"There is deep value in VW but the uncertainty around all the potential claims against the company make it difficult to invest," Sascha Gommel, an analyst at Commmerzbank AG in Frankfurt, said in a note to clients.

Tilp has represented investors in many German cases over capital-market disclosure issues. His firm represents investors suing Porsche SE for a combined €2.6bn.

Among the plaintiffs in the new VW case are investors from Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the US and Taiwan. These groups include 17 German investment management companies as well as insurance companies and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, one of the largest pension funds in the US, Tilp said.

Another 20 institutional investors seeking more than €1bn are in talks with the firm about an additional suit, Tilp said.

Tilp filed the first individual shareholder case against VW on October 1. The lawyer has asked the court to open test-case proceedings. If the request is granted, all capital-market cases will be jointly heard in a special procedure before the Braunschweig Higher Regional Court in the German state of Lower Saxony.

volkswagen  |  germany  |  emissions scandal  |  industrial
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