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Audi chairman arrested over emissions scandal

No bail granted to prevent tampering with possible evidence

Rupert Stadler became Audi chairman in January 2007. PHOTO FROM AUDI

The emissions scandal in Germany is continuing to make big waves. Following the recall of over 700,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles and a record $1-billion fine for Volkswagen, the latest dramatic development in this perpetually surprising saga comes from VW sister company Audi, whose chairman Rupert Stadler was arrested yesterday.

The arrest was initiated by the public prosecutor’s office in Munich who confirmed their actions to the media. “The accused was brought before the investigating judge, who ordered the execution of pretrial detention,” a statement issued by the Bavarian prosecutor read. “In light of the ongoing investigation, we cannot comment any further. The presumption of innocence continues to apply for Mr. Stadler.” The arrest was ordered to prevent evidence in the case from being concealed or modified, according to officials.

The Audi boss apparently failed to order the termination of sales of affected vehicles in Europe. PHOTO FROM AUDI

Stadler has been chairman at Audi for 11 years. A week ago, the public prosecutor’s office announced that it had started a preliminary investigation against him and fellow Audi board member Bernd Martens, who is the company’s head of purchasing. Both are accused of fraud and constructive false certification in relation to diesel cars with manipulated exhaust-gas treatment that were sold by the brand in Europe. According to available information, the private apartments of Stadler and his co-accused have been searched to secure evidence, and this latest development raises the number of people being investigated at the carmaker to 20.

Stadler is accused of fraud and constructive false certification in relation to diesel cars with manipulated exhaust-gas treatment that were sold by the brand in Europe

Stadler is said to have known about the company’s emission shenanigans in Europe after the issue first came to light in America, but unlike in the US, he apparently did not order a sales stoppage for affected cars in the company’s European markets. Investigators are basing their accusations on the analysis of internal communications, likely obtained during raids on the firm’s headquarters in March 2017 and one of its factories in February 2018.

Stadler is currently detained at an undisclosed jail in Bavaria, and is due to be interviewed this week. The prosecutor’s office also stated that bail in this case is unlikely due to “the danger of evidence being concealed or modified” being present. It seems then that the German government—or at the very least the German judiciary—is finally taking its gloves off and confronting the biggest scandal to ever hit the country’s automobile industry.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.