The probe over Porsche's botched bid to take over Volkswagen has been widened to cover members of Porsche SE's supervisory board, which include chairman Wolfgang Porsche and his cousin, Ferdinand Piech. Stuttgart prosecutors decided to expand its investigation over market manipulation claims to all members of the 12-person board between March 2008 and October 2008, including labor representatives.
A spokesman for the prosecutors’ office said that they will be examining if the board members helped former CEO Wendelin Wiedeking and finance chief Holger Haerter engage in market manipulation at the time.
Last December, prosecutors filed charges against Wiedeking and Haerter for market manipulation of VW shares during Porsche SE's failed 2008-09 takeover attempt of the much bigger VW. Porsche SE continues to face civil lawsuits that are seeking over 4 billion euros ($5.36 billion) in a court in Braunschweig, Germany. The claims are being contested vigorously by Porsche and its former executives.
Last December, a New York court this December rejected a lawsuit filed by 26 hedge funds that accused Porsche of concealing a plan to corner the market in Volkswagen shares. The hedge funds entered a deal not to appeal the U.S. ruling after having struck a deal with Porsche that enables them to file a suit in Germany. Juergen Pieper, an analyst at Bankhaus Metzler, said that after winning the U.S. case, the criminal probe won't pose "a big danger" for Porsche.
Pieper said that this is the “perfectionism” that's being pursued to resolve all the issues. Pieper added that so far, the decisions have favored Porsche. In March 2008, Porsche SE junked as "speculation" rumors that it wanted to take over VW.
About seven months later, Porsche SE made an announcement that it controlled 42.6% of VW's common shares and held options for another 31.5% of the stock it had not previously unveiled. Because of Porsche SE's statement, VW shares surged to 1,005 euros within days. For a short time, VW became the most valuable company in the world as short-sellers rushed to buy back stock that they had borrowed to bet that VW shares would fall.