07. Oct 15

VW emissions scandal: VW shares plunge - Shareholder damages claims

It is thought that around eleven million vehicles worldwide have been affected by the VW scandal concerning manipulated emissions test data, including models from Volkswagen’s subsidiaries Audi, Skoda and Seat.

GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London - www.grprainer.com/en conclude: It began with about 500,000 diesel vehicles whose emissions data is said to have been manipulated using software. In the meantime, the VW scandal continues to grow ever larger. According to statements made by the Volkswagen Group, the software responsible for this manipulation is said to be installed in approximately eleven million cars worldwide. It affects vehicles fitted with type EA 189 diesel engines.

It is thought that around 2.8 million vehicles are fitted with this type of engine in Germany. This not only concerns VW models but also the Volkswagen subsidiaries Audi, Seat and Skoda. The consequences of the scandal are not yet clear. VW should expect to pay fines in the USA amounting to billions of dollars and repay subsidies in Spain, where tagesschau.de reports that the government supported consumers with 1000 euros for every low-emission vehicle purchased. In addition, there are also the costs associated with repairs and potential claims for damages. It remains to be seen what impact the damage to VW’s image will have.

VW shareholders are already directly feeling the effects, as VW shares have plummeted since the scandal surfaced. Having said that, VW shareholders have the opportunity to assert claims for damages. To this end, they can turn to lawyers who are competent in the fields of banking law and capital market law.

There has since been speculation that the Volkswagen Group already knew about emissions data being manipulated in 2011 or perhaps even earlier. However, it does not appear to have complied with its obligations of disclosure. By concealing important information, VW may have infringed the Wertpapierhandelsgesetz (WpHG) [German Securities Trading Act] and thereby rendered itself liable to pay damages. One of the relevant passages is sec. 15 WpHG, according to which an issuer must immediately publish inside information that directly concerns it. Thus, the question of when the Group did in fact become aware of and conceal these manipulations is likely to take centre stage. Claims for damages could be asserted in relation to the period starting from this point in time up until the scandal came to light.

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