As previously reported, Holger Härter, Porsche’s CFO at the time of the attempted Volkswagen take-over, is facing criminal charges for his conduct in the transaction. The first trial is coming to a close now. The Stuttgart public prosecutor’s office (Staatsanwaltschaft) accused Härter and members of his finance team of having misrepresented the exposure under the option agreements to BNP Parisbas when they negotiated Porsche’s credit line and hence obtained credit by deception (Kreditbetrug; Sec. 265b German Criminal Code, Strafgesetzbuch). This is a criminal offence, even if the bank did not suffer any credit – merely having put the bank at risk suffices.
This first criminal action is now about to come to an end, at least at first instance. Before the Stuttgart District Court (Landgericht), the prosecution pleaded today, and asked for Härter to be handed a suspended sentence of one year. Härter and his defence team are scheduled to have their final say on May 17, 2013.
And once this trial is over, one way or the other, the next one, based on the allegations of market manipulation, is already lined up. This trial will involve not only Härter, but also the former CEO Wiedeking, and – if the usually well-informed Der SPIEGEL is to be believed, even members of the supervisory board, of whom Ferdinand Piech has already had his share of legal troubles. The claimants in the various civil actions are waiting in eager anticipation for this trail to start. With the expected delay of the civil litigation, if it is indeed transferred to yet another court, their chances of introducing into the damages claims evidence unearthed in the criminal action may increase.