Former Audi CEO Stadler pleads guilty in diesel scandal

Stadler, who was tried in the Munich District Court as part of the diesel scandal investigation, confessed to selling diesel-powered vehicles with manipulated exhaust systems in Europe. Stadler admitted that he had “made a mistake” by saying “yes” to the statement read out today by his defense lawyer at the Munich District Court.

The court had previously announced that 60-year-old Stadler would face a suspended sentence if he made a comprehensive confession about the diesel scandal and paid 1.1m euros. The Munich Prosecutor’s Office, which conducts diesel scandal investigations, accepted this.

In the lawsuit, which has been ongoing since September 2020, Stadler defended his innocence in the diesel scandal. In March 2023, the case reached a turning point when the court made it clear that Stadler would face jail time if he did not confess.

Stadler, who is also a member of the VW Group Board of Directors, announced earlier this month that he would confess. Stadler became the first Volkswagen Group Board Member to admit in court his alleged fraud by negligence in the diesel scandal.

Former Audi Engine Development Officer Wolfgang Hatz and two senior engineers previously admitted to using illegal software, while the Munich Prosecutor’s Office claimed that 2 executives were selling diesel-powered vehicles in Europe whose exhaust system was manipulated with illegal software. The prosecution accused Stadler of failing to stop the sale of Audi and Volkswagen cars, despite being aware of the manipulation since September 2015.

Stadler was suspended from his position by Volkswagen in 2018 due to the diesel scandal investigation.

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced in September 2015 that Volkswagen had manipulated emissions tests and that the company’s diesel vehicles were polluting the environment 40 times higher than normal.

Acknowledging that misleading software was used in the emission tests of approximately 11 million diesel-powered vehicles worldwide, Volkswagen was fined a high amount by the US court. The diesel scandal was widely criticized for damaging the image of the country’s automobile manufacturing base in the German public.

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