As part of our coverage of the Porsche/Volkswagen saga, we also try to keep track of the criminal proceedings it triggered. Today’s FAZ (print only) reports that in April 2014, the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) upheld the sentence against Holger Härter, the former Porsche CFO, for credit deception (Kreditbetrug).
The allegation was that Härter had misrepresented the exposure under the Volkswagen option agreements to BNP Parisbas when he negotiated Porsche’s multi-billion credit line. The District Court (Landgericht) Stuttgart as the trial court found that Härter had understated the cash needed by Porsche in the order of EUR 1.4 billion and that the misstatement did cause BNP Parisbas to grant the credit. Porsche had hence obtained credit by deception (Kreditbetrug; Sec. 265b German Criminal Code, Strafgesetzbuch).
The Federal Supreme Court had a limited scope of review, and in particular, did not hear any evidence itself. It found nothing wrong with the trial court’s analysis and interpretation of the evidence. To the contray, it labelled some of Härter’s defence arguments on what was relevant to BNP Parisbas as “highly implausible” (fernliegend), whereas the interpretation adopted by the trial court was “obvious to everybody” (für jedermann ersichtlich).
According to the FAZ report, Härter remains adamant that he did nothing wrong, and the courts failed dismally to understand the complex derivate arrangements he had put in place.