German watchdog urges prosecutors to probe entire former Volkswagen board

Tue Jun 21, 2016 6:10pm EDT
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By Jonathan Gould and Andreas Cremer

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's financial watchdog has called on prosecutors to investigate Volkswagen's (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) entire former management board over the time it took to disclose the carmaker's emissions test cheating, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The complaint filed by Bafin with prosecutors in Braunschweig is a blow for Volkswagen (VW) Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch and CEO Matthias Mueller, who were both members of the management board - as finance chief and head of the Porsche brand respectively - when the emissions scandal broke.

The prosecutors in Braunschweig, near VW's Wolfsburg headquarters, said on Monday they were investigating former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn and a second unidentified executive over whether they effectively manipulated markets by delaying the release of information about the firm's emissions test cheating.

The person familiar with the matter said Bafin believed the entire former management board should be held collectively responsible for how the scandal was communicated to markets.

Klaus Ziehe, a spokesman for the Braunschweig prosecutor's office, declined to provide details on Bafin's complaint, but said the office's investigations could be widened or narrowed.

"This is an ongoing procedure and the number of suspects is not cast in stone," he said.

Bafin and VW declined to comment.

Bafin's complaint comes just a day before VW holds its annual shareholder meeting, where the company was already bracing for a rough ride from investors who want to know who was responsible for the emissions test cheating.   Continued...

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn gives his closing speech during the Volkswagen group night ahead of the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany, September 14, 2015. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo