Former Audi boss Rupert Stadler has announced a confession in the fraud process involving manipulated emissions from diesel cars. His defense attorney Thilo Pfordte said on Wednesday before the Munich Regional Court that he agreed to the court's proposal for an agreement. The Economic Criminal Court had promised Stadler a suspended sentence if he made a comprehensive confession and paid 1.1 million euros.
The public prosecutor's office also agreed with the court's proposal. The presiding judge, Stefan Weickert, found that an agreement had been reached. Stadler wants to present the confession to the court in two weeks, as his defense attorney said. The verdict is not to be expected before Pentecost, said Weickert.
Stadler had protested his innocence for years and initially did not move away from the process, which had been going on for two and a half years. But according to the preliminary assessment of the Economic Criminal Court, he should have recognized by July 2016 at the latest that the exhaust gas values could have been manipulated. Instead of getting to the bottom of the matter and informing the trading partners, he allowed the sale of the cars to continue until the beginning of 2018. Therefore, a prison sentence for fraud by omission comes into consideration - with a comprehensive confession and payment of 1.1 million euros also on probation.
After the agreement, the court wants to sentence Stadler to between one and a half and two years in prison. The probationary period will then be three years, Weickert announced. The condition of probation is to be paid to non-profit organizations.
The former head of Audi engine development, Wolfgang Hatz, and two of his senior engineers had already confessed to initiating the design of the engine software. With impermissible defeat devices, the cars did comply with the nitrogen oxide limit values on the test bench, but not on the road. The car manufacturers wanted to save themselves the time-consuming subsequent installation of larger Adblue tanks for exhaust gas cleaning after they had previously miscalculated.
Rupert Stadler became head of the Ingolstadt VW subsidiary in 2007, succeeding Martin Winterkorn, who was moving to the top of the group at the time. From June 2018, Stadler was held in custody in Augsburg for four months due to the risk of collusion, until he resigned as Audi boss and VW board member. He had already reached a civil settlement with the Volkswagen Group and paid 4.1 million euros to his former employer for breach of duty.