Better Finance (the European Federation of Investors and Financial Services Users) and notable investor advocacy group DSW, based in Düsseldorf, Germany, recently joined the World Federation of Investors in support of the Stichting Volkswagen Investors Claim.
At its annual meeting in Milan last October, the World Federation of Investors (WFI) formally endorsed a program to enable investors in Volkswagen AG, Porsche AG and Audi AG securities to seek recovery for losses in the value of these securities resulting from the emissions fraud committed by Volkswagen.
Since the annual meeting, WFI has been a proactive advocate by informing, educating and facilitating individual investor participation in the Stichting Volkswagen Investors Claim, a nonprofit foundation established in the Netherlands to represent the interests of victims in seeking a resolution of claims against VW. The foundation's objective is to obtain relief for investors who have suffered investment losses as a result of the Volkswagen emissions fraud.
"This foundation is a unique opportunity for all VW investors," says Jella Benner-Heinacher, DSW's chief managing director. "It opens the door for them to pursue, at no cost, a settlement with VW." Founded in 1947, DSW has more than 30,000 members and is the leading shareholders' association in Germany.
Reflecting the broad international scope of the claims, the stichting has engaged counsel from the Netherlands (AKD), Austria (Breiteneder Rechtsanwälte Attorneys at Law) and the United States (Labaton Sucharow LLP), as well as attorneys from other European countries.
Stichting Volkswagen Investors Claim's U.S. counsel, Mr. Wiebe, has successfully filed a joint application for an Order Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782 to Obtain Discovery for Use in Foreign Proceedings ("Discovery Proceedings") for both Stichting Volkswagen Investors Claim and Stichting Volkswagen Car Claim. The next step in the process will be a status conference on Thursday, 25 August 2016 at which the Court plans to set a hearing date for the Discovery Proceedings applications. It is needless to say that we will keep you informed about the status of the proceedings.
After the Volkswagen AGM it became apparent that Volkswagen will only move under judicial pressure. WFI feels the obligation to inform VW investors to consider participating in a court case for compensation vs. VW in Germany because the statute of limitation in Germany could run out on 18 of September, 2016. The Stichting foundation will recommend a funding/legal representation package to retail investors and others. We are still awaiting the complete package from the German law firms involved for the Stichting Board to make its recommendation.
Deutsche Schutzvereinigung für – Wertpapierbesitz e.V. (DSW) has advised that Nieding+Partner will only accept investor applications until Aug 1, 2016 and in doing so investors can still retain their membership rights in any claim by Stichting Volkswagen Investors Claim.
German prosecutors say they are investigating Volkswagen Advisory Board Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch. The confirmation officially widens the probe targeting VW brand Chief Executive Herbert Diess and former CEO Martin Winterkorn to include Poetsch over suspected market manipulation. Prosecutors in Braunschweig, Germany suspect that in 2015 Volkswagen withheld financial information related to its emissions scandal that could have been divulged sooner. Germany's Transport Authority is also looking into new information involving Audi using emissions cheat software. From Reuters.
More information about Stichting Volkswagen Investors Claim is available on its website: https://www.stichtingvolkswagen-investorsclaim.com.
German Proceedings and Criminal Inquiries — Volkswagen's conduct has led to a global waive of litigation. This waive also includes the initiation of KapMug proceedings (a German class action). It is important to note that the actual KapMug proceedings have not commenced yet. Currently, the German court has not yet appointed a model case. For that reason, it is still not possible for the other investors (which are not joining in the KapMug proceedings as a party) to register their claims. After the start of the KapMug proceedings, it is expected that it would take years of litigation before a final decision is rendered. This means that the investors' patience to have a decision on their claims will be tested to a maximum. Meanwhile, the German public prosecutors are also investigating the knowledge and involvement of Volkswagen's (former) management within the scheme. This investigation would probably result in even more public facts about Volkswagen's wrongdoing and will further expand the financial exposure of Volkswagen. Nevertheless, Volkswagen keeps denying its liability and rejects taking full responsibility. This conduct is completely in contradiction with Volkswagen's earlier statements in which it was publicly apologizing for its actions, promising to cope with the consequences of the scandal and to restore the trust of the public.
Possibility for Final Closure — Once more the Foundation expresses the need for closure to this case for the benefit of the future of the company and for the compensation of the aggrieved parties. To that end, the Foundation has offered (and is still offering) Volkswagen a reasonable and fair solution by means of reaching a collective settlement, which can be declared binding by the Amsterdam Court of Appeal. In that way the company could address the aftermath of the scandal on a pan European scale. By means of this update, the Board of the Foundation stresses to its (potential) participants that it will continue to represent their interests. The Foundation will proceed with its efforts in achieving full and final closure to this case. With the initiative of the Foundation, Volkswagen could trust that it will find a reliable opponent in reaching a global solution.
Letter by Dr. Henning Wegener, former German Ambassador to Spain and Honorary Member of the WFI Executive Committee.
Subject: Destructive policies of the Volkswagen Group in dealing with the damages caused by the diesel scandal; necessity of an appeal for peaceful settlement and damage limitation.
As Chairman of the Management Board of the public interest Foundation Stichting Volkswagen Investors Claim I have sent an open letter to Ms. Brigitte Zypries, Minister for Economics and Energy.
Stichting Volkswagen Investors Claim strives for a rapid solution that is at the same time fair to the victims, and does not substantially prejudice the Volkswagen enterprise in its future financial possibilities and overall economic situation. Volkswagen AG could via a settlement come clean of its recent past, reestablish its image and reputation, and look to the future and shape it without the weight of its wrongdoings. With a view to such solution the Foundation has also concluded partnership agreements with the leading international investor protection associations – the World Federation of Investors, the European Federation of Investors and Financial Services Users (Better Finance) – and numerous national associations of investor protection.
I addressed myself to the Ministry for Economics and Energy because the position of VW in dealing with the consequences of the Diesel scandal has dramatically worsened. That makes our concept of a non-judicial solution even more relevant and more plausible. In this perspective it is difficult to understand – and indeed irresponsible – that the Volkswagen management shuts its eyes before the already visible avalanche of law suits and their incalculable consequences, and refuses to avail itself of opportunities to avoid or at least greatly diminish the colossal financial burdens inherent therein. Yet, they do exactly that. Up to this date, all contact initiatives of the Foundation have been blocked by management representatives. In the face of the growing swell of revelations and incriminations and the law suits initiated, every attempt at talks has been rejected, affirming – superficially, without offering any legal argument - that the Volkswagen AG has, at least in Germany, not committed any infraction of the laws, and that there is nothing to discuss or negotiate.
The Foundation believes that there is political and social responsibility with the Minister of Economy. The Government is facing an overriding economic challenge, the stakes being the financial health of a very important German company, but beyond that the credibility of the German State of Law. In addition, the first quality of investment venues of Germany in general, and Lower Saxony in particular, are at stake when considering the importance of ethical principles and good Corporate Governance.
The Foundation would welcome if Minister Zypries, in this sense, would make her influence felt with the Volkswagen management, and work for all possibilities of a peaceful settlement of compensation procedures.
In view of the high level of public interest in these matters this letter will be made public on the much-read web page of the Foundation.
The Foundation informed participants who registered directly with Stichting Volkswagen Investors Claim first time in the summer of 2016 and warned since the middle of November 2018 about the critical statute of limitations deadline. Furthermore, the Foundation recommended to join the action of Fortress/Nieding+Barth/Hausfeld/DSW or take actions to preserve the claim from getting time barred before the year 2018 ends.
The statute of limitations expired at the end of 2018 so the SVWIC enters into a new phase. Prescription has set in and new judicial proceedings are now foreclosed. The VW management can – and must – now assess the risks of multiple judgments in favor of the damaged investors. This also means that Stichting and the law firms that handle the law suits have to agree on a new strategy. Our common goal remains achieving an early and successful settlement with VW management and the components of the VW group.