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Was the Audi Chief Sacked Because Of Emissions Cheating Scandal?

rupert stadler

Audi’s chief executive Rupert Stadler stepped down from the management boards of Audi and its parent company, Volkswagen, amid investigations into the emissions cheating scandal that rocked the German company.

Volkswagen’s supervisory board did not suspend Stadler, the company emphasized, but the chief executive asked to step down until allegations against him are clarified. The company held a six-hour meeting on Monday when he was also detained by German prosecutors because he might influence witnesses in the ongoing fraud investigation.

Stadler, 55, is the highest-ranking Volkswagen executive to be arrested in connection to the costly diesel emissions scandal that first went public back in 2015. Last week, the German automaker was asked to pay 1 billion Euros, which Volkswagen did not dispute to show that it is taking responsibility for what happened.

Stadler and some other 19 current or former Audi employees are being investigated for tampering and installing a cheating software in 240,000 diesel cars sold in the United States and Europe. The cars were supposedly installed with a cheating software that would lower emissions only during the test. It would not work during normal car operations.

In a statement, Audi said that it agreed to suspend Stadler “until the circumstances that led to his arrest have been clarified.” He would be considered innocent until proven guilty.

The emissions scandal brought Volkswagen’s shares plunging, and it crushed the confidence of investors, consumers, and regulators in diesel technology. Since the scandal broke, it has already cost Volkswagen more than $30 billion in recalls, penalties, and settlements.

Although the German automaker changed its management and put a major investment in electric cars, it continued to struggle to move away from the issue.

Abraham Schot, Audi Board Member and Sales Chief, was named interim CEO while Stadler remains suspended, according to the statement from Volkswagen. Schot joined the VW Group from Mercedes-Benz Italia back in 2011. He joined the Audi board in September 2017 and is believed to be untainted by the scandal.

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