In the course of their operating activities, Volkswagen AG and the companies in which it is directly or indirectly invested become involved in legal disputes and official proceedings in Germany and internationally. In particular, such proceedings may occur in relation to suppliers, dealers, customers, employees, or investors. For the companies involved, these may result in payment or other obligations. Particularly in cases where US customers assert claims for vehicle defects individually or by way of a class action, highly cost-intensive measures may have to be taken and substantial compensation or punitive damages paid. Corresponding risks also result from US patent infringement proceedings.
Where transparent and economically viable, adequate insurance cover is taken out for these risks and appropriate provisions recognized for the remaining identifiable risks. The Company does not believe, therefore, that these risks will have a sustained effect on the economic position of the Group. However, as some risks cannot be assessed or can only be assessed to a limited extent, the possibility of loss or damage not being covered by the insured amounts and provisions cannot be ruled out.
After the two actions filed by the Verbraucherzentrale für Kapitalanleger e.V. (VzfK – German Protection Agency for Investors) with regard to the General Meetings on April 23,
2009 (action for avoidance) and April 22, 2010 (action for avoidance and disclosure) had been dismissed by the courts of first and second instance, the plaintiff lodged an appeal with the Federal Supreme Court against denial of leave to appeal in both cases. Both appeals were dismissed in 2012. Additional details about these legal disputes can be found in chapter Shareholder structure.
ARFB Anlegerschutz UG (haftungsbeschränkt), Berlin, brought an action against Porsche Automobil Holding SE, Stuttgart, and Volkswagen AG for claims for damages allegedly assigned to it in the amount of approximately €1.8 billion. The plaintiff asserts that these claims are based on alleged breaches by the defendants of legislation to protect the capital markets in connection with Porsche’s acquisition of Volkswagen shares in 2008. In 2011, investors initiated conciliation proceedings for other alleged damages – including claims against Volkswagen AG – that amount to approximately €2.6 billion in total and also relate to transactions at that time. Volkswagen rejected all claims at the time and refused to participate in any conciliation proceedings.
In fiscal years 2010/2011, antitrust authorities launched investigations at truck manufacturers including MAN and Scania. Such investigations normally take several years. It is still too early to judge whether these investigations pose any risk to MAN or Scania.
MAN has also launched an investigation into the extent to which irregularities occurred in the course of the handover of four-stroke marine diesel engines, and in particular whether technically calculated fuel consumption figures were externally manipulated. MAN has informed the Munich Public Prosecution Office (I) about the ongoing investigation and has handed the matter to the Augsburg Public Prosecution Office. It is also still too early to judge the outcome of this matter.
Suzuki Motor Corporation has filed an action against Volkswagen AG at a London court of arbitration for retransfer of the 19.9% interest held in Suzuki, and for damages. Volkswagen considers the claims to be unfounded and has itself filed counterclaims. The court of arbitration is not expected to reach a decision until mid–2013 at the earliest.