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July 31, 2019

Munich prosecutors charge former Audi CEO over emissions

Prosecutors have filed charges against former Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler, who is being investigated for his role in Volkswagen's emissions cheating scandal, the public prosecutor's office in Munich told Reuters on Wednesday.

By Olly Wehring

Prosecutors have filed charges against former Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler, who is being investigated for his role in Volkswagen's emissions cheating scandal, the public prosecutor's office in Munich told Reuters on Wednesday.

Stadler and three other defendants are being charged with false certification and criminal advertising practices, the office said, adding three defendants are accused of having developed engines used in Audi-, Volkswagen- and Porsche-branded cars that used emissions cheating devices.

"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 in a statement.

According to dw.com, prosecutors must decide if Stadler and the other defendants will stand trial.

An Audi spokesman said it was in the business' interest to reach the conclusion of the case, but stressed the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Volkswagen (VW) faced questions from 2015 when it was found their diesel cars were fitted with defeat devices which made it appear that their vehicles were producing less emissions than they actually did. 

They were able to keep to legal restrictions on diesel emissions in test phases despite emitting much more than was allowed in normal driving. Former VW boss Martin Winterkorn had charges brought against him in April this year.

Senior officials at Audi and Porsche, owned by the Volkswagen group, also face huge fines, and scrutiny over their knowledge and participation in the affair.

Stadler was arrested in mid-June 2018 as part of a broader probe into emissions cheating at Audi and spent several months in prison.

Volkswagen, which has faced billions of dollars in costs relating to the scandal, later terminated Stadler's contract against the backdrop of a criminal investigation into whether he was involved in emissions tests cheating.

The accused include former Audi and Porsche manager Wolfgang Hatz as well as two engineers, several people familiar with the proceedings told news media.

People familiar with the proceedings told Reuters that Stadler and Hatz have denied wrongdoing.

The prosecutors declined to identify the other defendants, while Stadler's and Hatz's lawyers were not immediately available for comment.

Investigations against 23 further suspects continue, the prosecutor's office said.

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