The SEC is investigating Volkswagen’s prank about switching its brand name in America to Voltswagen to see how the scam affected the carmaker’s stock price, and whether it violated any securities laws.
The rebranding process late last month caught the attention of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, according to To report New from Der Spiegel.
The fake brand change happened on March 29, when the US subsidiary Volkswagen “accidentally” published a draft press release about changing its name to Voltswagen in reference to the company’s larger push toward electric cars.
After some news outlets reported the matter, the company published an official press release on March 30th, which included quotes from Scott Q, CEO of Volkswagen of America, saying: The change is underway.
The company continued the joke by changing its logos and updating its accounts on social media platforms to reflect the new name.
It later turned out to be an early April Fools’ joke, and several news outlets, including the Associated Press, said that Volkswagen representatives lied and told them that the name change was underway.
The company’s share price rose during the fake rebranding by as much as 12.5 percent, the equivalent of billions of dollars in market value.
The agency previously pursued Tesla CEO Elon Musk for tweeting about things that turned out to be incorrect about his company, and the German company has a documented history of lying to regulators in the United States.
Details about the investigation are still scarce at the present time, although the company confirmed that the US agency had requested information from its US branch, VWoA, and that it was cooperating with the authorities.
The joke was an ill-considered move for a company that had lost the confidence of consumers and regulators in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal, which cost the company billions of dollars in fines, while trying Focus on electricity.
The rebranding could have been considered a joke had the company handled it differently.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission conducts investigations on a confidential basis and does not acknowledge the existence or absence of any investigation unless charges are brought, according to a spokesperson for the agency.