(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 15, 2017 The CEO of the German car producer Audi AG, Rupert Stadler gestures during the annual press conference in Ingolstadt, southern Germany.
Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler has been arrested on suspicion of fraud in connection with parent company Volkswagen’s “dieselgate” emissions cheating scandal, German prosecutors said on June 18, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Christof STACHE
The Chief Executive Officer of German luxury carmaker, Audi, Rupert Stadler, has been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation into an emissions scandal involving Audi and its parent company Volkswagen.
Stadler is the highest ranking Volkswagen executive to be arrested in connection to a costly diesel emissions scandal that burst into public view in 2015.
He has worked for Audi parent company, Volkswagen, since 1990 and he is currently being detained because of fears that he could influence witnesses, and might seek to suppress evidence in the ongoing fraud investigation.
His arrest comes just days after Germany imposed a N432 billion ($1.2 billion) penalty on Volkswagen for rigging diesel engine emissions worldwide.
Volkswagen has admitted that it rigged millions of engines to cheat on emissions’ tests. Diesel cars from Volkswagen and its Audi subsidiary cheated on clean air rules with software that made emissions look less toxic than they actually were.
The devices used to cheat the test were initially found in VW’s cars, but its Audi subsidiary has also been embroiled in the scandal, last month, Audi admitted that another 60,000 A6 and A7 models with diesel engines have emission software issues, on top of the 850,000 recalled last year by Audi, of which only some have been found to require modifications.
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Munich prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into potential fraud by 20 current or former Audi employees of which Stadler is included. The case is related to suspected emissions cheating in 240,000 cars sold, but prosecutors have not filed charges against Stadler.
Stadler was appointed to Volkswagen’s management board in 2010 and took Audi’s helm in 2007, had his house raided by German investigators last week, the raid occurred around the same time that VW Group agreed to pay a N432 billion ($1.2 billion) fine for “inadequate oversight”.
Prosecutors said Stadler could be released next week if he cooperates with investigators.
Volkswagen spokesperson, Nicolai Laude, has since confirmed he was being held and said, “the principle of the presumption of innocence continues to apply to Mr. Stadler”, but refused to comment about the investigation.