The head of the luxury arm of Volkswagen Audi was arrested Monday. He becomes the most senior official in the company thus far to be detained over the carmakers cheating software to beat diesel emission tests.
Prosecutors in Munich said that Rupert Stadler was detained due to worries he may hurt an investigation that is ongoing into the emission scandal. His arrest has plunged VW into a crisis at the leadership level.
News of his arrest comes as the new CEO of the VW group Herbert Diess is attempting to introduce a new structure at the leadership level that includes Stadler and increase the speed in the shift to electric vehicles following the disastrous emissions scandal.
The prosecutor’s office in Munich said that as part of its investigation into the Audi engine and diesel affairs it has executed an arrest warrant on Rupert Stadler June 18.
A Germany judge ordered that Stadler remain in custody to prevent, it said, the obstructing or the hindering of the prosecutors diesel investigation.
VW and Audi both confirmed the CEO’s arrest and reiterated that a presumption of innocence remained for Stadler.
Porsche SE, the company in control of Audi and VW, released a statement through its spokesperson that said the arrest of Stadler would be discussed on Monday at a special supervisory board meeting.
In September of 2015, VW admitted it used illegal software in its diesel engines to cheat emissions tests in the U.S., which sparked the company’s biggest crisis in its history and led to a regulatory crackdown across the entire auto industry worldwide.
The U.S. filed criminal charges in May against Martin Winterkorn the former CEO at Volkswagen, but he is not likely to face authorities in the U.S. because Germany has a policy of not extraditing its nationals to countries not located within the European Union.
Prosecutors in Munich said that the arrest of Stadler was not carried out due to suggestions or pressure made by authorities in the U.S.
The top executive at Audi was detained at his Ingolstadt home on Monday in the early morning hours.