Bosch must hand over e-mails in VW emissions suit: court

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Supplier Robert Bosch [ROBG.UL] must hand over e-mails in connection with lawsuits brought by investors against Porsche SE PSHG_p.DE in connection with the Volkswagen (VW) VOWG_p.DE diesel scandal, a Stuttgart regional court ruled on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: German automotive parts maker Robert Bosch's plant in Tienen, Belgium on April 21, 2009. REUTERS/Thierry Roge/File Photo

Investors in two separate suits claimed that Porsche SE, which controls 52.2 percent of VW’s voting rights, had not disclosed the financial risks of VW’s emissions scandal quickly enough when it emerged in 2015.

Their lawyers demanded that Bosch provide e-mails concerning its business with VW.

Bosch, which makes an engine control unit used by several top automakers including VW, had protested, saying it had the right to refuse to provide evidence.

The Stuttgart court ruled that Bosch had no such right in this case.

It said the e-mails showed Bosch acted in accordance with the law, which meant it could not argue that it risked incriminating itself by handing them over.

Providing the e-mails would also not risk causing direct financial damage to the company or to anyone to whom it is accountable, it said.

Nor could Bosch refuse based on its right to protect trade secrets, since manipulation of engine control software is illegal and therefore not protected by law.

Bosch said it would await the court’s full written opinion and then consider how to respond.

“The company reserves the right to file a legal challenge to protect the interests of Bosch,” it said in a statement.

Preference shares in Porsche SE fell by more than 40 percent in the two weeks after the VW emissions scandal broke.

They remain nearly 10 percent below their value prior to the news that VW had cheated on emissions tests.

Reporting by Maria Sheahan and Ilona Wissenbach; editing by Douglas Busvine and Jason Neely