The investigations being conducted into the emissions cheating scandal of Volkswagen (VW) by German authorities have now charged the former chief of one of the brands of the group – Audi, with allegations of fraud.
The German investigators have also brought in charges of false certification and criminal advertising practices against the former Audi boss the Rupert Stadler. According to the allegations brought about the German prosecutors, Stadler did nothing and decided to turn a blind eye during the emission scandal even though he was aware and had knowledge that software designed to cheat pollution tests had been fitted in hundreds of thousands of Audi, Porsche and VW cars.
All the charges and allegations have been denied by Stadler,
The VW diesel emission scandal first came to light in September 2015 after it became clear that the company had attempted to cheat the diesel emission tests in the United States by installing software in about 600,000 vehicles in the country that had already been sold. Similar software was also installed in millions of VW cars globally.
Ever since the emergence of the scandal, the German car maker has set aside around $30bn to cover fines and settlements. The company is the owner of global brands such as Audi and Porsche.
While charges of fraud have been brought against the former VW boss Martin Winterkorn, the roles of many other executives of the company in the diesel scandal are currently also being investigated.
Stadler faced charges over the issues along with three other defendants, announced the public prosecutor’s office in Munich on Wednesday. The other three defendants were not however named.
The indictment of Stadler is related to the sale in the US and Europe of about 250,000 Audi-branded cars, 112,000 Porsches and 72,000 Volkswagen cars, the prosecutor said. “Defendant Stadler is accused of having been aware of the manipulations since the end of September 2015 at the latest, but he did not prevent the sale of affected Audi and VW vehicles thereafter,” the prosecutor said. “Vehicles with the engines concerned were subsequently sold in large numbers and placed on the market.”
Stadler had to spend some time in police custody after he was arrested last June in connection to the larger investigations into the diesel emissions cheating incident at Audi. His contract was later ended by VW citing the criminal investigation ongoing against Stadler.
It was important for the company to clarify the issues that led to the diesel crisis and was in the interest of the company, its shareholders and employees, Audi said on Wednesday. The company however added: “Until this has happened, the presumption of innocence must prevail.”
According to the from the Munich prosecutor’s office, probe against 23 further suspects is still underway in relation to the diesel emission cheating scandal; at VW.
(Adapted from BBC.com)