The US securities regulator has announced a lawsuit against the German car race Volkswagen (VW), which it claims to have raised billions in bonds while lying to investors about its polluting emissions.
From April 2014 to May 2015, Volkswagen raised $ 13 billion in US-funded bonds and securities when corporate executives knew more than 500,000 US-market vehicles exceeded the legal limits of pollutant emissions, according to a lawsuit filed by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Thursday night in California.
Thanks to that, VW has won hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, SEC says.
To raise money in US markets, issuers must "provide investors complete and accurate information," said Stephanie Avakian, secretary of the SEC.
"Volkswagen has hid its emissions (pollutants) for a decade while selling billions of dollars in bonds to investors at inflated prices," the agency said.
The SEC intends to restore undue profits with interest and fines. It also aims to ban Volkswagen's exCEO Martin Winterkorn from working in any publicly traded company in the United States.
In a statement, the German group replied that it considered the SEC case to be "erroneous", both legal and factual, and stated that it would strongly oppose it.
"The secretary is looking for an unparalleled procedure for securities sold only to savvy investors who have not been damaged and who have been paid in time and with full interest," said VW in the statement.
The group argues that the US regulator does not accuse anyone responsible for issuing bonds for knowing that emissions of pollutants exceeded the thresholds allowed by the United States, but "repeats only the undisputed allegations against the former Volkswagen CEO who did not attend" in this case.
"Dieselgate" has cost so much more than $ 31.7 million in vehicle repurchase and legal proceedings against the vehicle giant. Most of this sum was paid in the US, where Volkswagen has repaid almost half a million customers.