Police investigates Audi boss in Volkswagen scandal

This video says about itself:

28 February 2017

I know it seems like we’ve been talking about VW’s dieselgate scandal for years and that’s because, well, we have. But it just keeps getting crazier and in order to get to the meat of today’s story – which has as much courtroom drama as an episode of Matlock – we need to go back to the beginning.

It was the Fall of 2015 when Volkswagen was busted, and admitted to using illegal software to rig emissions testing, so its diesels could pass tests with regulators. Audi, the premium brand owned by Volkswagen Group initially denied involvement but shortly thereafter copped to selling 2 million or so diesels fitted with the cheating software. Volkswagen’s CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned due to the scandal, but Audi’s CEO, Rupert Stadler, has remained on board with the luxury brand.

Well, this past week some information surfaced via a former Audi engineer. According to Forbes, the former employee, Ulrich Weiß, was one of the company’s leading diesel developers until he was suspended in 2015. Despite this, Weiß continued to collect a paycheck since, to the tune of $473,000 annually, until last week when he was unceremoniously fired for testimony that Audi has essentially invented dieselgate’s defeat devices.

Since then, the engineer has produced a document – what Forbes is referring to as the “Smoking Dieselgate Gun” signed by Audi’s head of powertrain development Dr. Thomas Heiduk, indicating that Audi board members had basically ordered a cheat to be developed. It seems Weiß was asked at the time to find a way of passing Hong Kong’s strict emissions rules and he demanded the order in writing, which he then kept under lock and key in his safe as insurance.

And while you’d think this evidence would signal the end of Audi for its CEO Rupert Stadler, Reuters is reporting that he is expected to win the backing of top officials at the carmaker and parent company Volkswagen this week. Okay, that’s one problem solved. But here’s the other – Audi is the leading premium brand in China, according to Reuters, and this newly revealed Hong Kong scandal could have a major impact on the brand in this market.

I’m Anna Wells and this is IEN Now.

Translated from German weekly Der Spiegel today:

Raids about exhaust gas. Investigators have Audi boss Stadler in their sights

In the case of raids at locations in the Audi Group, Rupert Stadler, the head of the Group, was also searched for personal notebooks and smartphones. …

By Dietmar Hawranek and Frank Dohmen

Last Wednesday, just before the presentation of the company’s annual figures, more than a hundred policemen and prosecutors searched the Audi headquarters in Ingolstadt, the plant in Neckarsulm, the VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, and seven other locations. Private rooms were also searched.

A total of 47 persons are listed, in particular, in the investigation, during which the officials are to look for “correspondence, in particular e-mail traffic, in so far as they relate to the facts”.

Among the managers mentioned are many developers, but also the former Audi directors Ulrich Hackenberg and Wolfgang Hatz, as well as Audi boss Rupert Stadler. There was also a search for supervisory board and executive board meeting records.

The reason for the searches are the exhaust gas manipulations with diesel engines. The prosecutor’s office, Munich II, has opened an investigation on suspicion of fraud and criminal advertising.

The prosecutors hope that their search will provide information about the planning, decision-making processes, flow of information and the distribution of cars in connection with fraudulent software in the USA. The investigators accuse Audi of having sold at least 80,000 cars equipped with an “impermissible shut-off device” for exhaust gas regulation. Audi had therefore advertised and sold vehicles which did not meet the requirements imposed by the US and which obligated the purchasers to pay prices which were considerably higher than the value of the sold vehicle.

Concretely, this is about the suspicion of “fraud or fraud in indirect perpetratorship” pursuant to Article 17 (1) of the Act against Unfair Competition, according to the decision of the District Court of Munich of 6 March.

Wolfgang Hatz arrested: here.

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