A group of institutional investors have launched a €900m ($1bn, £760m) lawsuit against luxury carmaker Daimler (DAI.DE) in a German court, accusing the Mercedes-Benz parent company of deliberately hiding the fact that it was using illegal emissions-cheating software.
The suit, brought by German law firm TILP on behalf of investors from the EU, North America, Asia, and Australia, claims Daimler concealed the use of illegal defeat devices in its diesel cars, and failed to warn investors of the risks and costs involved.
Daimler’s stock fell from over €90 to under €60 during the “disinformation” phase from 10 July, 2012 to 20 June, 2018, the lawsuit says, adding that Daimler’s failure to properly inform investors amounts to a violation of capital markets law.
“This means that the plaintiffs bought the Daimler stock at too high a price, and it is our conviction that Daimler is liable to them for compensation of damages,” Andreas Tilp, an attorney for TILP, said in a statement.
Daimler told Reuters that it had not received formal notification of the lawsuit, but that it considered it to have no merit. "We will defend ourselves against the accusations with all legal means," a Daimler spokeswoman told Reuters on Tuesday.
Volkswagen’s (VOW.DE) huge diesel-emissions scandal broke in September 2015. It then gradually emerged that other German carmakers, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz, had also used the illegal software devices in their vehicles, which caused the emissions levels to give much lower readings in test situations than in reality. Volkswagen has paid out over €30bn to date in fines and damages.
Daimler has been forced to recall over 700,000 Mercedes diesel cars containing the software in Europe since 2018. In September last year, a German court fined it €870m for neglecting to carry out its supervisory duties from 2008 onwards, which led to some 680,000 rigged diesel cars being certified and sold, despite not complying with nitrogen-oxide emissions rules.