The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) defended its slow investigation into Volkswagen AG on Monday. Earlier, a judge questioned the SEC about why the automaker was sued two years after the global car exhaust scandal broke out.
In March of this year, the SEC filed a civil lawsuit alleging that Volkswagen and its former chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, defrauded investors in US bond issuance.
Volkswagen has said that the SEC’s allegations "have flaws in both law and de facto and will actively defend."
In 2015, Volkswagen was found to use illegal software to deceive US exhaust gas detection, triggering a global boycott of diesel vehicles. So far, Volkswagen has spent 30 billion euros ($33.65 billion) on the fines, penalties and recall costs associated with this. In May of this year, the bank also allocated 5.5 billion euros of contingent debt.
US District Judge Breyer questioned the SEC’s prosecution of the public in May. More than two years ago, Volkswagen reached a settlement on the criminal investigation of the US Department of Justice, acknowledging three felony convictions and paying $4.3 billion in fines.
Breyer said: "My basic question is, what made it take so long for you to investigate." He added that he was "completely confused" about why the SEC waited until 2019.
On Monday, the SEC disclosed the details of the investigation in a document submitted to the court and stated that it had conducted extensive settlement negotiations with Volkswagen before deciding to file a lawsuit. In the documents submitted to the court, the SEC said that its “workers, under very difficult circumstances, worked hard and completed an investigation into the large number of different securities issued by a foreign company and its three affiliates over the years,” And “fairly treating the public and providing the company with a complete program throughout the investigation.”
2015年9月，SEC在纽约和芝加哥的办公室对大众展开了调查，负责监督调查的SEC律师杰弗里 - 沙克（Jeffrey Shank）在一份法庭文件中写道，该机构直到2017年才知道大众债券的存在，然后花了10个月时间才披露谁“对大众债券投资者的声明负责”。
SEC表示，美国大众汽车公司前首席执行官迈克尔 - 霍恩拒绝接受美国证券交易委员会的问询，即使在2017年9月，美国司法部告诉霍恩的律师，美国司法部愿意为霍恩提供安全通道。