German prosecutors in Munich have filed official charges against former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, alleging "fraud, indirect discrimination, and false advertising" related to the businessman's role in the automaker's 2015 emissions scandal.
According to prosecutors, Stadler is believed to be at least partly responsible for Audi's decision to knowingly sell diesel-powered vehicles with illegal emissions-defeating devices. Charges allege that the CEO was made aware of the manipulation "by the end of September 2015 at the latest,” yet still permitted the sale of vehicles with the devices equipped.
Word of Dieselgate first broke in 2015 when the United States Environmental Protection Agency revealed its findings against the VW Group, alleging that it altered the amount of NOx emissions produced by a vehicle when it was being tested versus its real-world performance. This has since spiraled into arrests, allegations of a "cartel-like" collusion between several German automakers, and billions of dollars in fines.
While only naming Stadler, officials also revealed that charges had also been filed against three other individuals on Wednesday. The three unnamed parties were implicated alongside Rupert and were charged with their role in developing engines used by Audi, Volkswagen, and Porsche which made use of the emissions defeat devices. In total, German prosecutors estimate more than 400,000 illicitly equipped vehicles were sold worldwide.
Though the scandal may be nearing four years since discovery, its roots run deep. According to Deutsche Welle, courts in Munich and Brunswick are said to be still investigating 69 different individuals who they believe may have had a hand in the emissions-related misconduct.
Stadler had previously been incarcerated for more than four months following another Dieselgate-related arrest in mid-2018. He was dismissed from his role as Audi's CEO last October, leaving the automaker with an empty seat until he was replaced on the first day of 2019.
Audi has not responded to The Drive's request for comment at the time of writing.