Fraud. False advertising. Dieselgate. Better hire a good lawyer.
Last October, former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was released from jail and quickly fired by Volkswagen. He was arrested in June 2018 for allegedly interfering with the Dieselgate investigation and the specific role he may or may not have played in the emissions-cheating software scandal. But just because you're released from prison doesn't necessarily mean you're off the hook.
And now, after a report claiming Audi's involvement in Dieselgate was deeper than previously thought, the prosecutor's office in Munich, Germany has charged Stadler, along with three other defendants, with "fraud, indirect discrimination, and false advertising" in connection with Dieselgate. The prosecutor states that Stadler "is accused of having been made aware of the manipulations since the end of September 2015, at the latest, but he did not prevent the sale of affected Audi and VE vehicles thereafter."
The indictment against Stadler relates to over 430,000 vehicles (250,000 Audis and 70,000 VWs, and 100,000+ Porsches) that were sold in Europe and the US. Will Stadler face trial? That's up to the Munich district court to determine, but the charges against him are very serious and prosecutors would not have filed them if they didn't have damning evidence. What's interesting is that Stadler is only one of two top Volkswagen Group executives – current or former – to have been arrested for an alleged role in the Dieselgate scandal.
The other is VW's former emissions compliance chief for the US, Oliver Schmidt, who's now facing seven years in prison. Was Stadler the only person to have known what was really going on? Was he the only one to participate (allegedly) in a cover-up? Common sense says 'no,' but that's not how the modern justice system works.
The only other high-ranking executive to have legal troubles is former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn. In May 2018, the US Justice Department issued a warrant for his arrest, so chances are he won't be taking a vacation to the US anytime soon, if ever again. Chances are he won't be extradited to face trial. Winterkorn, of course, denies any involvement. German prosecutors also charged him with fraud earlier this year, but he never spent a single day in jail, like Stadler.