Ex-Porsche CFO’s Fine Won’t Rise as Prosecutors Miss DeadlineKarin Matussek
German prosecutors’ bid to increase former Porsche SE Chief Financial Officer Holger Haerter’s sentence in a loan-fraud case was rejected by a Stuttgart court after a deadline expired.
Prosecutors failed to file arguments within a month of the release of the written judgment, Florian Bollacher, spokesman for the Stuttgart Regional Court, said in an e-mail.
Haerter was fined 630,000 euros ($847,539) for credit fraud in a criminal case over the refinancing of a 10 billion-euro loan during a failed bid to buy Volkswagen AG in 2009. The court found he downplayed Porsche’s liquidity needs and failed to disclose the correct number of put options on VW shares Porsche held during negotiations with BNP Paribas SA about the lender’s 500 million-euro share of the syndicated loan.
“We deliberately let the deadline elapse, because that has the same effect as retracting an appeal,” Claudia Krauth, spokeswoman for the Stuttgart prosecutors, said in an interview. “We came to the conclusion that our appeal wouldn’t have had a sufficient chance to succeed, so we dropped it.”
Prosecutors filed their appeal immediately after the conviction, saying they are seeking a stiffer sentence for the former executive. At trial, they had requested a fine of as much as 1 million euros and a one-year suspended prison sentence.
Haerter has denied the allegations and is challenging the conviction. Prosecutors oppose the appeal and have filed briefs in those proceedings, Krauth said.
Anne Wehnert, Haerter’s lawyer, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
The trial yielded the first conviction in a string of cases related to the takeover bid in which Porsche used an options strategy. Stuttgart-based Porsche is also facing civil suits in Germany seeking a total of about 5.5 billion euros and prosecutors have extended a market-manipulation probe to cover members of Porsche’s supervisory board in 2008.
In a separate indictment in December, prosecutors charged Haerter and former Chief Executive Officer Wendelin Wiedeking over the use of VW options in the bid. The Stuttgart court hasn’t decided whether the case, in which both have denied wrongdoing, should go to trial.