Investigators looking into potential stock price influencing
Prank gone bad puts company under government microscope once again
Volkswagen USA’s failed attempt at an April Fools prank appears to have the automaker in hot water with US regulators once again. A new report says that the US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the automaker to find out if the Voltswagen debacle influenced the brand’s stock price.
As a quick reminder of the hoax, on March 29th VW USA briefly published a press release dated April 29th that said that the automaker would change its branding to Voltswagen in the US for EVs. Allegedly, using an anonymised e-mail address, the company ensured that the “leaked” news was seen by some prominent journalists. While it seemed like an April Fools that dropped early, company officials said it was true. It wasn’t.
Now, German newspaper Der Spiegel is reporting that the SEC is in the early stages of an investigation into Volkswagen of America, working to determine if the phony announcement influenced the automakers stock price in an illegal manner. The report says that VW confirmed the SEC had requested information about the incident.
Der Spiegel says that the campaign is looked at as a failure inside the automaker, and said that internally it’s considered that “above all, the bogus press release has cost the group’s credibility.” The move also brought into question the credibility of multiple Volkswagen of America officials.
When admitting to the prank, VW said that “the idea came from a very Volkswagen place: Let’s have some fun. Let’s have a gag. Let’s show the world how crazy we are about EVs. Full stop.” An SEC probe means that there are likely far fewer smiling faces around the company’s offices now.