VW diesel scandal – Audi manager under arrest
Investigators in the VW diesel scandal have taken a high-level manager into custody. Audi boss Rupert Stadler was detained on Monday due to the danger of evidence being suppressed. Stadler’s position at the top of the senior VW subsidiary and thus also on the VW Board, will be taken temporarily by the Dutchman Bram Schot, provided this is approved by the Audi board of trustees. The German press agency has discovered this through trusted informants. The 56 year old has been sales director at Audi for about nine months.
In the past few weeks the Munich state authorities have conducted an investigation into Stadler and another director of Audi and at their homes. The authorities want to prevent interference with witnesses or evidence. There have been indications that “there is a danger of evidence being suppressed. And that has led to the arrest warrant”, said a spokesperson for the state justice department. A VW spokesperson commented that there was still the presumption of innocence.
Since 2009 Audi has sold about 220,000 diesel cars in the USA and Europe with the defeat software. Since the end of 2015 two senior Audi R&D managers and four other Audi managers have resigned.
The investigators have accused Stadler and the other Audi managers of deception and false declarations in connection with the manipulation of emissions at the VW company. Both had knowingly allowed diesel vehicles with the manipulated emissions cleaning to be sold in Europe. Following the discovery of the manipulation of the false readings in the USA, Stadler would have known about this in Europe, but, as in the US, gave no order to halt production. The investigators became suspicious during the analysis of correspondence reported during the investigations.
Stadler was arrested at his home on Monday morning and then taken before the investigative judge, stated a spokesperson for the state justice department in Munich. Stadler has made no comment. He will make a statement once he has spoken with his attorney, said the public prosecutor. The defence attorney is inspecting the evidence and will speak with Stadler on Tuesday, so interrogation will start on Wednesday at the earliest. The public prosecutor is not saying where the manager is being held.
In the past there have been several requests for Stadler’s resignation, and possible successors have been named. In Schot, they will have a manager at the Ingolstadt plant who has relatively few Audi associations. He was moved from Daimler in 2011 to the VW company and then worked in VW commercial vehicles for about five years as head of sales.
Stadler became chair of the Audi board of directors eleven years ago. Shortly after the discovery of the emissions manipulation in VW four cylinder engines in the USA in autumn 2015, he must also have acknowledged the manipulation of six cylinder Audi engines. To date, however, he has denied any personal knowledge or participation. The Porsche and Piech families who own VW have until now strongly supported Stadler.
Stadler is not the first, but is the highest ranking, manager to be investigated in the VW sandal. A former Porsche head of development has been under investigation in Munich since September 2017. One of his earlier colleagues at Audi in Neckarsulm who had been under investigation for several months was released in November 2017.
In the USA two VW employees have already been sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment and large fines. In total, penalties have been imposed on nine former or current VW employees in the US. The previous chairman of the management committee, Martin Winterkorn, is to be brought to trial and the US Justice Department is applying for an arrest warrant. In Germany the Brunswick prosecutors are investigating 49 people potentially involved in the emissions scandal. The arrest of Stadler also dampened the mood of investors. At close of trading VW shares had fallen by 3.08 percent to 156.06 Euros, the biggest loser on the DAX.