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Crime

Porsche ex-finance chief fined for credit fraud

Former Porsche finance chief Holger Härter has been found guilty of credit fraud in the wake of the sports carmaker's failed bid to take over VW in 2008. Prosecutors wanted Härter jailed, but he was just given a fine.

Porsche's ex-chief financial officer Holger Härter was handed a fine of 630,000 euros ($823,000) for misinforming French bank BNP Paribas during credit talks in 2009, a regional court in Stuttgart, Germany, announced Tuesday.

The talks were aimed at securing a credit facility of 500 million euros for the German sports car manufacturer, which was struggling at the time after its takeover bid for the much bigger Volkswagen (VW) car group had failed at the end of 2008.

The court ruled that the 57-year-old former finance chief, who was sacked in 2009, had misled BNP Paribas on the real value of VW stock options. Prosecutors had called for a minimum one-year jail term for what they described as massive credit fraud.

Lawyers for Holger Härter announced they would appeal the ruling in a higher court.

Porsche vs VW - one of Germany's most intriguing corporate thrillers

In early 2008, Porsche holding company launched a hostile takeover bid for Europe's biggest carmaker Volkswagen but publicly denied the plans for several months. Porsche's bid unraveled in October 2008, leaving the luxury carmaker more than 10 billion euros in debt. Finally, Volkswagen acquired Porsche in a complex takeover completed just last year.

Porsche's former managers, including ex-CEO Wendelin Wiedeking, are currently also facing charges of stock market manipulation in connection with the failed VW bid. In 2008, Volkswagen share prices fluctuated wildly after Porsche had announced its takeover plans with a number of Porsche shareholders now accusing management of misleading investors over their plans.

uhe/ng (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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