Audi’s chief executive Rupert Stadler has been arrested by German authorities in connection with his role in the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal.
German prosecutors in Munich say they carried out an arrest warrant against “Mr Professor Rupert” earlier today as part of an investigation into diesel affairs and Audi engines.
According to Reuters, a judge in Germany has ordered the company chief to remain in custody in order to prevent him from “obstructing or hindering” the diesel investigation.
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Stadler is the most senior official in the Volkswagen group (Audi’s parent company) to be held in custody since the diesel cheating scandal was first exposed in September 2015, says the BBC.
Audi has also been embroiled in the scandal, the BBC adds. Last year the car company recalled 850,000 models to check “emission software issues”. A further 60,000 diesel-engined A6 and A7 were added to the repair programme last month.
Stadler’s arrest will be a major embarrassment for the VW group.
The group’s chief executive, Herbert Diess, is currently introducing a new leadership structure – which includes Stadler – as the company seeks to move away from diesel-powered vehicles in favour of electric cars, The Guardian says.
Despite numerous product recalls and leadership changes, VW is still paying the price for its involvement in the scandal relating to the rigging of US emissions tests on diesel engines.
Last week, the car giant agreed to pay public prosecutors in Munich a €1bn (£880m) fine for fitting its cars with “impermissible software functions” that temporarily lowered nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions during tests, Auto Express reports.
Meanwhile former VW chief Martin Winterkorn was indicted by US prosecutors last month in relation to claims he was aware of emissions cheating “as early as 2014”, The Sunday Times says. This was a year before the devices became public.
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