2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-08-25 09:36
Ex-Porsche boss Wendelin Wiedeking and his former CFO Holger Härter have been acquitted of the accusation of market manipulation. The public prosecutor's office is examining a revision.
In the Porsche trial, ex-CEO Wendelin Wiedeking (63) and his former CFO Holger Härter (59) were acquitted. "There is nothing to the allegations of the Stuttgart public prosecutor's office, nothing - neither in front, in the back, nor in the middle", judged the presiding judge Frank Maurer on Friday at the Stuttgart district court. In addition, the co-defendant parent company Porsche SE does not have to pay a fine.
The prosecution suffered a bitter defeat. She had demanded a prison sentence of two and a half years for Wiedeking and two and a quarter years for Härter for market manipulation.
Takeover of VW failed
The defendants had always protested their innocence. "We are glad that this chapter has been completed," said Wiedeking after the judgment. The allegations were "grotesque". "We were always aware that we had nothing to reproach ourselves for," said Härter.
The criminal case concerned the legal processing of the takeover battle between Porsche and Volkswagen in 2008. At that time, the VW stock exchange price was exposed to violent fluctuations, and investors lost billions. The public prosecutor had accused Wiedeking and Härter of concealing their plans to take over 75 percent of VW or of providing insufficient information about them. Both managers had always denied that. The court's arguments also failed to convince the court. "There was no secret plan by the board to go to 75 percent," said the judge.
Maurer pointed out that no witness could have supported the allegations. This is all the more serious because the files are difficult. The public prosecutor's office relied entirely on files in its arrest claim because, in their view, witnesses and experts in the proceedings were "unproductive". The conclusions of the public prosecutor's office are not correct, according to the judge. So the assumption of the prosecutors that Wiedeking and Härter could have made the takeover decision "over a beer after work" is unrealistic, since such a decision should have been binding.
Experts saw themselves confirmed
According to an expert opinion, there was either no or no clear connection between Porsche statements and the VW stock market price in 2008. The prosecution then presented the expert opinion as worthless, also because the wrong method had been chosen. The judge criticized this attitude in his ruling: "The public prosecutor's office is left alone with its opinion." The chosen analysis method is solid.
The public prosecutor's office had argued that Wiedeking and Härter wanted to drive up the VW course because of impending losses of 14 billion euros. Here, however, the public prosecutor's office miscalculated, these are unrealistic "ghosts of loss", according to Maurer. The outcome of the criminal proceedings is also a signal to separate civil processes in Lower Saxony, where funds are suing for more than five billion euros in damages - so far without much success. One of the lead lawyers for the civil plaintiffs, Andreas Tilp, was calm after the Stuttgart judgment. The acquittals did not affect the civil suits, he said, emphasizing: "There is no binding effect between criminal judgments and civil proceedings."
External experts saw the judgment confirmed. In view of the great doubts that had existed early on about the viability of the indictment construction, "one could almost speak of the chronicle of an announced failure," said Frankfurt law professor Matthias Jahn. "The trial has shown that the common prejudice that you" hang the little ones "and" let the big ones run "does not apply, because the accused have been subjected to a preliminary investigation and a long and stressful trial.
For Wiedeking and Härter, the topic has not yet been ticked off. The public prosecutor wants to examine the possibility of an appeal. If it does not go into revision or if it fails, the judgment would be final - then Wiedeking and Härter would be summoned as witnesses in the civil proceedings, presumably in 2017. (dpa)
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