The Dieselgate saga continues...
While the Volkswagen Group emissions scandal, dubbed "Dieselgate," was exposed over three years ago in September of 2015, the repercussions have lasted far longer. This past Thursday, a federal grand jury in Detroit indicted four former Audi executives for their role in Dieselgate, bringing the consequences of VW's cheating scheme into 2019.
Court documents uncovered by Bloomberg revealed that all four perpetrators-Richard Bauder, Axel Eiser, Stefan Knirsch, and Carsten Nagel-were members of Audi's engine development and certification teams. However, they are all believed to currently be in Germany, and since Germany does not have an extradition agreement with the United States, the former Audi employees will not be sent to the United States for further prosecution.
The court documents alleged that the group conspired with Giovanni Pamio, a former Audi manager. Pamio was indicted in the US in 2017 over accusations that he ordered the creation of the "defeat device," the software element that recognized when the VW Group's vehicles were being tested by regulators and then concealed the engines' actual emissions numbers. Bauder, Eiser, Knirsch, and Nagel were charged with defrauding the United States, committing wire fraud, and violating the Clean Air Act.
This is just the latest in a long line of penalties served by VW Group employees and brands. Last October, Audi paid out $927 million to settle a German investigation into Dieselgate, while Audi CEO Rupert Stadler-arrested last June but released in October-is still being scrutinized for his involvement.
While several employees have been charged, including former VW Group head honcho Martin Winterkorn, only two prison terms have been dealt out. Both occurred in the United States; Oliver Schmidt began serving a seven-year sentence in 2017 for attempting to cover up the scandal, while James Liang, who helped develop the defeat device, started a four-year sentence the same year. All told, the VW Group has paid out $31 billion in buybacks, fixes, and fines since the scandal broke cover back in 2015.