BERLIN (Reuters) - German prosecutors have pressed further charges against two former top executives of Porsche SE (PSHG_p.DE), a holding company, over their role in the firm’s botched attempt to take over Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) in 2008.
The regional court in Stuttgart, where Porsche is based, said on Monday charges had been filed against former CEO Wendelin Wiedeking and former finance chief Holger Haerter, based on Porsche’s disclosure in October 2008 of holding options that would give it control of almost three quarters of VW.
VW shares soared in response in late October 2008 and forced short-sellers to race to buy back stock they had borrowed betting that VW shares would drop.
“The deceptive press statement is laid to charges against the defendants because it suggested that in future only a few VW common shares would be available on the market and, thus, pretended a permanent market squeeze,” Stuttgart prosecutors said in a statement on Monday.
Lawyers for Wiedeking and Haerter, who will face court proceedings from July 31 based on charges of market manipulation already brought in 2012, denied any wrongdoing on behalf of their clients.
“The accusations raised in the belated charges are evidently construed, factually wrong and unfounded,” the lawyers said on Monday in a joint statement.
The initial charges mainly looked at where and how Porsche camouflaged its takeover plans while the new charges refer to the implications of Porsche’s hedging strategy, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors said.
Porsche’s failed attempt to take over much-larger VW led to a series of lawsuits by dozens of hedge funds, including Viking Global Investors and Glenhill Capital, accusing the holding company of secretly piling up a stake in VW, Europe’s largest automaker, during 2008 and 2009.
Some of the Germany-based lawsuits seeking more than 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion) in compensation from Porsche SE have been rejected by courts in Stuttgart and Braunschweig, shifting attention to the pending trial of Wiedeking and Haerter.
Reporting by Andreas Cremer and Jan Schwartz; Editing by Susan Fenton