German prosecutors raided Porsche and Audi on Wednesday for suspected "fraud and criminal advertising" related to the diesel-emissions saga at the car firms' parent company, Volkswagen Group.
Thirty public prosecutors in Stuttgart, where the sports-car maker Porsche is headquartered, searched for documents at 10 properties, they said in a statement. Three people have come under suspicion, including a member of the Porsche management board, a senior Porsche manager and a former Porsche employee.
In a statement Porsche said: "We confirm that investigators today inspected and secured documents at the offices of Porsche AG in Stuttgart and Audi AG in Ingolstadt. Audi AG and Porsche AG are co-operating fully with the investigating authorities. Please appreciate that we can't comment on further details due to the ongoing investigation."
The raids come just days after Volkswagen initiated an enormous restructuring that included replacing its chief executive, Matthias Müller, and promoting Oliver Blume, the head of Porsche, to Volkswagen Group's management board.
The group’s chairman, Hans-Dieter Pötsch, said last Friday that the restructuring comes a time when, “to a great extent”, Volkswagen has “put the diesel crisis” behind it.
Two people at Volkswagen said the raids had nothing to do with any of the developments last week, in which Müller, who was previously the top executive at Porsche, was abruptly replaced by VW's passenger-car head, Herbert Diess.
Prosecutors said an investigation is ongoing and they would not provide further details. Similar raids have already been conducted at VW, Daimler and BMW.
The statement said prosecutors had received help from their counterparts in Munich, who last year arrested Wolfgang Hatz, a high-ranking executive and engineer who served across the VW, Audi and Porsche brands.
Mr Hatz, who remains in custody, was a Porsche board member overseeing research and development from 2011 until he was suspended, with little explanation, following the September 2015 revelation that Volkswagen Group had cheated on diesel emissions tests. Mr Hatz was previously head of engines and development at Audi from 2001 to 2007, and was then chief engineer for engines and transmissions at Volkswagen from 2007 to 2011.
VW shares, which rose sharply on last week’s restructuring news, were down only 0.2 per cent at publication time. – © The Financial Times Ltd 2018