The German state of Bavaria is suing Volkswagen, seeking restitution for state civil servant pension fund losses of around €700,000 following the breaking of dieselgate last September and the attendant stock price collapse.
The Bavarian lawsuit is intended to recoup some of these pension losses for those affected. The lawsuit makes Bavaria the first German state to file a lawsuit against the company in relation to the emissions cheating scandal.
While this marks the first time that a regional German government has filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen in relation to the scandal, a great many other governments around the world have already done so — the US Department of Justice; the US Federal Trade Commission; the state governments of New York, New Mexico, Massachusetts, and West Virginia; the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund; interests in South Korea; etc.
Reuters notes: “Bavaria, home to German blue-chip companies including BMW, Siemens and Allianz, owned about 58,000 VW preference shares when news of the scandal broke.” Hence the notable pension losses that followed the breaking of news of the scandal.
The Bavarian Finance Minister, Markus Soeder (a member of the Christian Social Union sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats), stated bluntly in a recent interview: “We want this money back.”
Bavaria will reportedly file its suit against Volkswagen in September at the regional court of Braunschweig near the company’s Wolfsburg headquarters in the state of Lower Saxony. The state of Lower Saxony of course is actually Volkswagen’s second biggest shareholder, it should be remembered.
Reuters, in its coverage, added: “… VW’s home state expressed scepticism about the prospect of legal action such as Bavaria’s succeeding.”
Continuing: “It remains to be seen whether Bavaria will seek damages for losses incurred because of the fall in VW’s share price or whether the state will claim that a violation of disclosure rules on behalf of VW caused the financial damage, state finance minister Peter-Juergen Schneider said in an emailed statement.”
The state of Baden-Wuerttemberg — headquarters of Daimler, and the Volkswagen-owned Porsche brand — has also been mulling potential legal action against Volkswagen. The state finance ministry was recently quoted as saying that it held around 65,000 Volkswagen preference shares at the time of the scandal breaking.