Rupert Stadler, the chief executive officer of Audi, the luxury arm of Volkswagen, has been arrested over the emissions test scandal which has engulfed the company. According to prosecutors in Munich, the reason for arresting Stadler was because there was a risk he could act to suppress evidence. Stadler has been the chief executive officer of Audi for over a decade now.
The emission test scandal surfaced about three years ago following revelations that devices which were designed to generate fake emissions tests results had been fitted into Volkswagen’s vehicles. Initially the devices were found in Volkswagen vehicles but lately they have also been found in Audis. In May it was revealed that A7 and A6 Audi models numbering 60,000 that were powered by diesel engines possessed emission software issues. This was in addition to the 850,000 vehicles which Audi recalled last year.
Per the prosecutors in Munich Stadler will be questioned before the end of Wednesday once he has been given an opportunity to speak to his lawyers. The arrest of Stadler came a few hours prior to a meeting of the supervisory board of Volkswagen Group was to take place.
“As part of an investigation into diesel affairs and Audi engines, the Munich prosecutor’s office executed an arrest warrant against Mr Professor Rupert Stadler on June 18, 2018,” a statement from the prosecutor’s office in Munich said.
The arrest took place around seven days after the private apartment of Stadler was raided. Since the emissions test scandal broke three years Stadler is most senior executive to have been arrested.
Reports also indicate that Stadler could be asked to step down as Audi’s chief executive officer on an interim basis. The board of the carmaker is expected to take a vote on the matter. One of the names that has been touted as being likely to take over as interim CEO is Abraham Schot, the sales chief of Audi and a member of the board. Schot previously worked at Mercedes-Benz Italia before jumping ship to VW Group in 2011. He was appointed to the board of Audi last year in September.
According to sources an interim chief executive officer is necessary since in two months’ time Audi will be launched a battery-powered sports utility vehicle known as the e-Tron and the car maker will not be in a position of executing its strategy properly with a top executive being held for an indefinite period.