faces shareholder claims over emissions scandal
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[January 18, 2016]
By Ilona Wissenbach
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Dozens of large
shareholders in Volkswagen plan to sue the carmaker in a German court,
seeking compensation for the plunge in its shares due to its emissions
test cheating scandal.
Law firm Nieding + Barth said on Monday it would lodge a case with a
regional court in Brunswick this week, seeking hundreds of millions
of euros in damages on behalf of 66 institutional investors from the
United States and Britain.
"On top of that, we collected several thousands of private
investors. Therefore we think we are the biggest platform for suits
against Volkswagen in Germany," said Klaus Nieding of Nieding +
Volkswagen's (VW) shares have lost almost a third of their value, or
about 22 billion euros ($24 billion), since it admitted in September
to misleading U.S. regulators about emissions with the help of
on-board engine control software.
The law firm plans to use so-called capital market model claims, a
German legal procedure which - for lack of U.S. style class-action
lawsuits - uses court rulings won by individual investors as
templates to set damages for others that are equally affected.
VW, which declined to comment, is facing a legal onslaught on
several fronts. U.S. owners of vehicles with higher-than-stated
emissions are expected to seek billions of dollars in damages, while
the U.S. Justice Department has sued VW for up to $46 billion under
the Clean Air Act.
Nieding + Barth said it would argue that VW had been aware of its
violation of diesel emissions rules before its first statement on
the matter in September and should have informed the public earlier.
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Germany's Bafin watchdog said on Monday its probe of whether VW
breached disclosure rules was so complex it would likely take
several more months.
Bentham Europe, a litigation finance group backed by U.S. hedge fund
Elliott Management and Australian-listed IMF Bentham, said in
November it was in contact with VW's top 200 investors about
launching a damages claim in Germany as soon as February.
German lawyer Andreas Tilp in October filed a lawsuit on behalf of
The Financial Times first reported the planned litigation in
($1 = 0.9178 euros)
(Writing by Ludwig Burger; Additional reporting by Andreas Cremer;
Editing by Mark Potter)
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