Ex-Porsche Executives Ask for Acquittals in Manipulation Case

  • Lawyer for former CEO Wiedeking calls indictment `invented'
  • Defense attorneys deliver closing arguments at Stuttgart Trial

Lawyers for former Porsche SE Chief Executive Officer Wendelin Wiedeking and ex-Chief Financial Officer Holger Haerter said prosecutors “invented” a story to back up charges that the men misled the markets before a failed bid to take over Volkswagen AG in 2008.

The lawyers roundly criticized prosecutors as they called for acquittals for their clients during closing arguments at the nearly five-month-old criminal trial in Stuttgart Monday. None of the witnesses backed up claims that the men had secretly plotted the acquisition long before they announced it on Oct. 26, 2008, according to Wiedeking’s lawyer, Walther Graf.

"This trial showed: The story told by these charges is freely invented," Graf said. Prosecutors’ theories "obviously originate out of pressure to win a conviction under any circumstances."

The two men are on trial for allegedly lying about their strategy on VW and the purpose of options they had secretly built up. When Porsche on Oct. 26, 2008, first disclosed its acquisition plan and its option holdings, short sellers drove up the price of VW shares as they scrambled to cover their positions. Porsche later gave up its scheme after funding dried up amid the financial crisis.

Prosecutors are seeking prison terms of 30 months for Wiedeking and 27 months for Haerter and fines of 1 million euros ($1.1 million). The company should also pay a fine of 807 million euros, prosecutors said in their own closing arguments.

A verdict is scheduled for Friday.