A former Audi CEO pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges connected to the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, in which Audi parent VW cheated on emissions tests with illegal software.
Rupert Stadler admitted culpability in keeping affected cars on sale after news of the scandal broke in late 2015, the Associated Press reported. He entered this guilty plea under an agreement with the judge and prosecutors that allows for probation instead of jail time, and requires Stadler to pay a 1.1 million euro ($1.2 million) fine.
2013 Audi A7 TDI
Stadler was charged with fraud and false certification by prosecutors, who accused him of overseeing the sale of cars with emissions-cheating software after September 2015, when the EPA issued a formal notice accusing VW of violating the Clean Air Act.
The former top Audi executive was arrested in 2019 over allegations related to the diesel scandal. The launch of the Audi E-Tron SUV, the automaker's first mass-market EV, was delayed when he was being held by officials.
2019 Audi E-tron
After the diesel scandal broke, Stadler pushed ahead with plans to electrify Audi, with the arrival of one electrified model each year. Audi has more or less stuck to that, while parent VW has issued the mother of all mea culpas in the form of its MEB platform for high-volume EVs.
Stadler's $1.2M personal fine measures up as just a very tiny percentage of the cost of the VW diesel scandal in total; in 2020 it was summed at nearly $35 billion. That includes a $1.2 billion fine issued by German authorities in 2018, which was one of the largest penalties ever levied in Germany. The German government has also charged former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, but proceedings have stalled due to his poor health, the AP reported.