ANOTHER LAWSUIT: A British pension fund becomes the latest group to seek legal action against Volkswagen. Image: AP / Damian Dovarganes
Frankfurt - A German law firm said on Wednesday it is suing embattled automaker Volkswagen on behalf of a British pension fund for compensation for the plunge in its shares due to its emissions test cheating scandal.
Law firm Nieding & Barth said in a statement that together with another firm, Mueller Seidel Vos, it had filed a suit on behalf of the pension fund at the regional court in Brunswick.
The identity of the pension fund was not revealed.
Law firm chief Klaus Nieding: "The basis for our claim is (VW's) violation of its capital market information obligations."
Daniel Vos of Mueller Seidel Vos said: "Because VW concealed its manipulation of the software in diesel vehicles for many years, shareholders have suffered substantial losses on their investment. And VW must be held responsible for that."
VW is currently embroiled in a scandal of global proportions after it admitted in September that it had fitted 11 million diesel engines worldwide with devices aimed at cheating emissions tests.
It is under investigation in several countries including the United States where authorities first uncovered the scam and have now filed a lawsuit against VW.
The scandal has hit VW hard. It lost nearly 40% in market capitalisation since September, when the scandal broke, even if its shares have come back off their lows since then.
The German law firms accused VW chief executive Matthias Mueller of deliberately playing down the affair on his recent visit to the United States.
Nieding said: "That testifies to a lack of will (within VW) to clear up the matter."
He also accused the German authorities of dragging their feet in their investigations.
Nieding + Barth and Mueller Seidel Vos described themselves as the biggest platform for VW shareholders seeking compensation in Germany.
They said they currently represented around 6500 private and institutional investors who were seeking hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) in damages.
VW is facing a legal onslaught on several fronts.
Aside from the lawsuit filed by the US Justice Department, US vehicle owners are expected to seek billions of dollars in damages.
Germany's financial sector watchdog, Bafin, is also investigating whether VW breached disclosure rules.