The Regional Court of Stuttgart exonerates Wendelin Wiedeking and Holger Härter from alleged criminal market manipulation. Both men are former members of the executive board of Porsche Automobil Holding SE (Porsche SE), Stuttgart.
The Stuttgart Public Prosecutor accused Dr. Wiedeking, former highly successful CEO of Porsche AG, and Härter, former CFO of Porsche AG, of financial shenanigans in connection with Porsche SE’s acquisition of Volkswagen AG shares. The genesis of this and other related cases occurred quite a number of years ago, in 2008.
In the opinion of Presiding Judge Dr. Frank Maurer of the Regional Court of Stuttgart, the Stuttgart Public Prosecutor did not convincingly make his case. The Court thus rejected the charges that the former Porsche SE board members committed a criminal offense.
The Court also dismissed a motion to impose a fine against Porsche SE, a secondary party to the criminal action. In essence, then, the Court upheld the defense arguments of both the primary defendants and Porsche SE. The Public Prosecutor, however, does retain the right to appeal the ruling.
Porsche SE issued an immediate release on the decision, stating that the Stuttgart financial arm of Porsche welcomed today’s court ruling. “We were always of the opinion that the shareholding in Volkswagen AG was acquired in accordance with capital market regulations,” said Dr. Manfred Döss, member of the Porsche SE executive board responsible for legal affairs and compliance.
Döss went on to say, “We are pleased that the chamber of the Regional Court of Stuttgart responsible for economic offenses has confirmed our legal opinion, expressed since the beginning of the investigations in August 2009, that the allegations made by the public prosecutor are without merit.”
This isn’t the only Porsche legal victory. Previously the Public Prosecutor was compelled to drop charges of breach of fiduciary duty and trading-based market manipulation as alleged from the outset of these cases. Also withdrawn were charges against the members of the supervisory board in office in 2008. [Please see Stuttgart Higher Court dismisses U.S. hedge-fund claims and Porsche SE wins another Appeals Court case.]
Hence all remaining allegations by the Public Prosecutor have been found to be completely without merit by the Regional Court of Stuttgart.
In the wake of these acquittals, Dr. Döss voiced his optimism that today’s decision bodes very well for Porsche SE and thus creates a “tailwind” for Porsche SE in the final remaining pending civil proceedings. Likewise in previous civil cases, the plaintiffs have failed all six times in two courts of appeal against Porsche SE.