Former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler charged in connection with 'Dieselgate' emissions scandal

Jill Petzinger
Jill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Rupert Stadler, then Audi CEO, pictured at the International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, March 5, 2018. Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

A court in Munich, Germany, has charged ex-Audi CEO Rupert Stadler with “fraud, indirect discrimination, and false advertising” in connection with the emissions-cheating scandal

Stadler, who was also a member of the Volkswagen Group executive board, was arrested in June last year, accused of trying to interfere with the ongoing investigation into VW’s use of illegal emissions-cheating software in diesel vehicles, which came to light in September 2015.

Stadler was released from custody in October 2018 and subsequently fired by VW.

The public prosecutor today accused the former Audi boss and three others of "developing engines for Audi, VW, and Porsche vehicles whose controls were equipped with an inadmissible software function."

READ MORE: German car owners fighting VW might wait years for any compensation

It also charged Stadler with being aware of the emissions manipulation by September 2015 and to have kept selling affected Audis and VW cars or not to have stopped the sales.

The overall inditement relates to over 430,000 cars — 250,000 Audis, 70,000 from VW, and over 100,000 from Porsche — which were sold in the US and European markets.

The Munich district court will now decide if Stadler must face trial. Stadler was the only automotive boss at the VW Group to have been arrested in the scandal that has cost the carmaker billions in fines in the US and Germany.

The US Department of Justice issued an arrest warrant for former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn in May 2018, but it is highly unlikely he would be extradited to face trial in the US. Winterkorn, who has denied personal involvement in the scandal, was also charged with fraud by a German court in April this year. Braunschweig prosecutors alleged that the former VW chief had been aware as early as May 2014 that the company’s diesels contained special defeat software that made them seem cleaner during lab tests.

VW’s emissions compliance chief in the US was arrested in Florida in 2017 and sentenced to seven years in prison.