German state prosecutors have charged three employees at Porsche with credit fraud, the latest fallout from a legal dispute alleging the sportscar maker illegally cornered the market in Volkswagen shares in 2008.
The unnamed Porsche employees are accused of giving false information about the number of options Porsche held on Volkswagen ordinary shares during talks over a 10 billion euro ($13.23 billion) loan refinancing in March 2009, prosecutors in Stuttgart said in a statement on Tuesday.
Prosecutors did not elaborate on which employees were being charged. Porsche, which is headquartered in Stuttgart, was not immediately available for comment.
After running up billions of euros in debt following an unsuccessful attempt to buy Volkswagen, Porsche struggled to refinance billions of euros in debt in 2009 and was eventually forced to seek a rescue from Volkswagen.
Lawsuits by investors, unresolved windfall tax liabilities and a criminal investigation in Germany into breach of trust and market manipulation continue to hamper efforts to combine with Volkswagen, which already holds a stake in sportscar unit Porsche AG.
Investors said they were victimized when Porsche quietly bought nearly all the freely traded ordinary shares of Volkswagen as part of a plan to take over the company, a move that contradicted its public statements that it had no plans to do so.
When Porsche revealed its holdings in October 2008, shares of VW soared, briefly making the company the world's biggest by market value. This caused a short squeeze and created losses for some investors, which had entered swap agreements and would have benefited from a decline in price.
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger and Edward Taylor; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)