The chief executive (CEO) of Volkswagen’s Audi division, Rupert Stadler was detained by the German authorities for manipulation of emissions controls on Monday making him the highest-profile arrest in the group’s diesel-cheating probes.
He was detained at his home in Ingolstadt, the Bavarian city, in the early hours of this morning, prosecutors say. While the Munich prosecutor’s office said “As part of an investigation into diesel affairs and Audi engines, the Munich prosecutor’s office executed an arrest warrant against Mr Professor Rupert Stadler on June 18, 2018.”
Volkswagen, which last week agreed to pay a fine of 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) imposed by German prosecutors, confirmed the arrest. Earlier in 2017 a Vokswagen engineer James Liang was arrested and jailed for 40 months in America with a fine of $200,000, after admitting helping to design software to cheat US emission tests as Liang had led VW’s Diesel Competence unit in the US. The prosecutors in Munich, Stuttgart and Braunschweig are continuing their investigations of the carmaker and its units. Earlier in April, a senior engine manager of the company’s luxury brand Porsche was arrested by the Stuttgart authorities after they conducted raids at 10 sites as part of a long-running probe.
“Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was provisionally arrested this morning,” said the company in a statement. According to the company, following his arrest a court hearing is ongoing to determine whether Stadler would remain in jail. The company also said that it wouldn’t comment further due to the ongoing investigation.
“The presumption of innocence remains in place for Mr. Stadler,” Audi said.
A German news agency reported that the prosecutors decided to seek Stadler’s arrest due to fears that he might try to evade justice. A former head of Audi’s engine development unit is already in investigative detention. In the Audi probe a total of 20 people are under suspicion, the probe focuses on cars sold in Europe that were believed to be equipped with software which turned emissions controls off during regular driving.
After Stadler’s arrest the shares in Volkswagen have fallen 2% in Frankfurt.