Audi CEO Rupert Stadler arrested over emissions scandal

Rupert Stadler

Rupert Stadler

German news agency dpa reported that prosecutors made a decision to seek Stadler's arrest due to fears he might try to evade justice.

The head of Volkswagen's luxury arm Audi was arrested on Monday, the most senior company official so far to be taken into custody over the German auto maker's emissions test cheating scandal.

Audi said in a statement last week that it was "cooperating with the authorities" in the probe.

The move follows a search last week of Stadler's private residence, ordered by Munich prosecutors investigating the manager on suspicion of fraud and indirect improprieties with documents. Confirming the development, a spokesperson said: "We confirm that Mr Stadler was arrested this morning".

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler attends company's annual news conference in Ingolstadt, Germany March 15, 2018. The prosecutors also said that the arrest of Stadler was essential as the investigators saw the risk of him trying to suppress evidence in the diesel emissions probe.

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Former VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn stepped down soon after the scandal broke in September 2015, while successor Matthias Mueller was hastily replaced earlier this year. The executive was arrested at his home in Ingolstadt in the early hours on Monday, they said.

Audi confirmed the arrest to AFP, declining to give further details. He was named a suspect by the Munich prosecutor's office alongside an unnamed member of Audi's board of management.

Volkswagen shares were down 2.1 per cent at 157.66 euros in Frankfurt trading. "The hearing to determine whether he will be remanded is ongoing", a spokesman for parent company Volkswagen said.

Volkswagen admitted that almost 600,000 cars sold in the U.S. were fitted with "defeat devices" created to circumvent emissions tests. Two managers are serving prison terms in the US.

But investigations are continuing elsewhere. The company has earmarked more than €27 billion in fines, buybacks and costs.

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