Ex-Audi boss admits he turned blind eye to diesel-rigged cars

17 May 2023 - 09:17
By Karin Matussek
Stadler, 60, has been on trial for fraud since 2020 and until recently had rejected any wrongdoing.
Image: Bloomberg Stadler, 60, has been on trial for fraud since 2020 and until recently had rejected any wrongdoing.

Rupert Stadler, former head of Volkswagen’s Audi brand, admitted to a German court he should have stepped in when sales of rigged vehicles continued months after the diesel scandal broke.

The confession at his Munich trial on Tuesday is part of a settlement with prosecutors and the court in exchange for a suspended sentence under which Stadler agreed to pay €1.1m (R22.9m). His confession was read out in court by his attorney, according to a spokesperson for the Munich tribunal. 

The scandal over rigging millions of diesel cars cost Volkswagen more than €30bn (R622.9bn). Europe’s largest carmaker had equipped vehicles with cheat mechanisms that reduced emissions to within legal limits during testing while polluting more than allowed under normal driving conditions. 

Stadler, 60, has been on trial for fraud since 2020 and until recently had rejected any wrongdoing. Before his dramatic about-turn, Stadler had claimed he was misled by a rogue engineers over the functionalities of emissions-control software. His change of heart came after the judges told him they considered the allegations as proven. 

Prosecutors accused him of continuing to sell cars with manipulated engines even after the scandal burst into the open in late 2015. However, the court in March limited the case to the period starting July 11 2016, and his confession only covered that time frame. 

Stadler only admitted that he thought it was possible that rigged cars were sold then but didn’t know that for sure.

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