Former Audi boss pleads guilty to diesel scandal

Former Audi boss pleads guilty to diesel scandal


Photo: ANP

Former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has pleaded guilty in court to his role in large-scale fraud of the German brand’s diesel cars. Stadler has maintained his innocence for years, claiming he was misled by engineers within the company.

However, the Munich Regional Court promised Stadler a suspended prison sentence in March if he pleaded guilty and paid a fine of 1.1 million euros. Stadler had said in early May that he would make the confession to avoid going to prison.

Audi, like parent company Volkswagen, has been involved in misleading measurements of nitrogen emissions from diesel engines, with emissions that are good in lab tests but very high on the road. Shortly after learning in 2015 that U.S. automakers cheated things this way, Stadler knew about the practices, too, according to prosecutors. However, he did not stop producing cars with special cheat programs until 2018.

Stadler is not charged with abetting auto tampering. He allowed these vehicles to continue being sold, even though he knew emissions values ​​could be manipulated. With a “yes” answer, he confirmed a statement read by his lawyer in court on Tuesday. In it, Stadler admitted wrongdoing. The statement acknowledged that he had the option to intervene, but did not.

With the confession made on the 168th day of trial, Stadler became the first member of the Volkswagen Group’s board of directors to admit in court to charges of negligent fraud in the diesel scandal.

Former Audi engine development chief Wolfgang Hatz, who has also been charged, and two senior engineers have already admitted to helping design the engine software. According to the court, Hatz and an engineer can also expect a suspended sentence. The other engineer was not prosecuted for a financial fine.

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