Former Audi CEO arrested in Germany over diesel-scandal allegations

Two days after a newspaper investigation in Germany revealed the depth of Audi’s role in the vast diesel emissions-cheating scandal at Volkswagen, German prosecutors have arrested the division’s former CEO, Rupert Stadler, in conjunction with the scandal.

He has been charged with falsifying emissions and compliance certificates and illegal advertising of “clean diesel” cars from Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen in Europe and the U.S.

A Munich state court has not yet determined whether the case will go to trial, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. If convicted by the Munich court, Stadler could face up to five years in prison or a fine.

Prosecutors allege that Stadler knew about the emissions cheating by the end of September 2015, yet continued to allow the sale of non-compliant Audi turbodiesel cars and failed to take action to prevent their sale.

Stadler was famously detained a year ago, just before the planned introduction of the Audi E-tron, which was expected to mark a new day for the company as it transitioned from diesel to electric cars. The launch had to be postponed as Stadler was held without charges in Germany out of fear that he could suppress evidence in the diesel case, and was eventually released on bail in October after being fired as Audi’s CEO. He was replaced by former sales director Bram Schot.

Martin Winterkorn

Martin Winterkorn

Stadler is not the first Volkswagen executive arrested on charges related to the diesel emissions scandal. German prosecutors charged former Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn in April. Winterkorn was also charged in the U.S. last year, but since Germany does not extradite its citizens to the U.S., he is unlikely to face the charges here.

Two former VW executives are serving prison sentences in the U.S. on charges related to the scandal. Oliver Schmidt, the former U.S. compliance officer for the company, pleaded guilty to charges in 2017 after being arrested at Miami International Airport on a family vacation. He is serving seven years in prison. James Liang, a former software engineer at the company is serving a 40-month sentence. U.S. prosecutors have charged six other VW executives who are all still in Germany.

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