Porsche ex-CFO Holger Haerter denies market manipulation claims

Article by Anita Panait, on September 6, 2012

Holger Haerter, former Chief Financial Officer of Porsche, has denied claims that he misled a bank when the carmaker refinanced a EUR10 billion loan ($12.5 billion) in 2009, saying the charges against him are "clearly wrong." Haerter, along with two other managers, is on trial for allegedly understating Porsche's liquidity requirement by EUR1.4 billion, had all its purchase options held on Volkswagen AG shares been exercised.

The case against Haerter is part of larger criminal probe into allegations that investors were misled on Porsche's plans to take over VW as well as on the derivatives strategy the carmaker set up as part of that plan.

Prosecutors at Stuttgart, Germany are still investigating Haerter and former Porsche chief executive Wendelin Wiedeking over claims of market manipulation and breach of trust.

VW and Porsche agreed to merge in 2009 after the latter incurred over EUR10 billion of debt in its unsuccessful hostile offer for VW. The merger agreement was called off in 2011 due to the lawsuits. To avoid further delays, VW acquired Porsche’s auto business and completed the transaction on Aug. 1, 2012.

Stuttgart prosecutors said in 2011 that their investigations into Wiedeking and Haerter had "solidified" doubts that Porsche failed to adequately inform the market between 2007 and 2009 about its plans to take control of VW.

The prosecutors added breach of trust allegations over the use of derivatives in the allegations, saying that instruments may have placed Porsche at the risk of bankruptcy. Claudia Krauth, a spokeswoman for Stuttgart prosecutors, said it is still uncertain when that part of the probe will be completed.

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