The former chief executive and head of engine development for Audi rejected the German prosecutors’ allegations connected to their roles in the diesel-emissions scandal that shook the luxury-car maker’s parent Volkswagen AG half a decade ago.
Laying our Defense For Audi Personnel
The lawyers Rupert Stadler and Wolfgang Hatz began putting out their defense Tuesday. In turn, this was after prosecutors started making their case last week in a trial. It took place near Audi’s headquarters. Stadler didn’t stop the sale of rigged cars in Europe. Moreover, this was even after U.S. authorities uncovered the engine-rigging scandal in September 2015. Hatz allegedly knew about the cheating as early as 2008.
An attorney for Hatz, Gerson Trueg, said there’s no evidence his client was not aware of the cheating. In fact, he insisted Hatz wouldn’t have tolerated illegal conduct at Audi. Stadler’s lawyer Thilo Pfordte got angry at prosecutors over their tactics. He said they created this to force the former CEO to become part of the trial. This occurred was even though the allegations against him are less severe than those leveled at Hatz. In addition, to the two other suspects who are former Audi engineers.
The Malpractice Involved, This was a Strategic Decision
“No engineer decides about this on his own. This was a strategic decision,” Walter Lechner, a lawyer for one of the lower-level engineers, said Tuesday in Munich, contradicting Stadler and Hatz’s defenses.
Everyone within company management — including board members — was aware of the malpractice in pushing to make supposedly clean-diesel cars popular in the U.S. and elsewhere, Lechner said.
Large-Scale Manipulation of Audi Diesel-Engine Software to Bypass Emission Test
The cost to the world’s best-selling automaker 32 billion euros ($38 billion) and counting. It is said to be a large-scale manipulation of diesel-engine software. This bypasses the emission test. The trial will go on through the end of 2022. It relates to 434,420 manipulated cars. This is more than 80% of which were sold in the U.S., according to the indictment filed by prosecutors.
It cost at least 81 million euros to fix cars in Europe. In turn, cost at least 89 million euros in the U.S. Because of a sales ban for rigged cars in the U.S., the connected damage there was more than 3.1 billion euros, according to the indictment.
Direct implications for Audi and the VW group have possible limits. This is because claims against the company settled in 2018. But the trial against the individuals could still stir unease due to the prosecutors’ findings. In turn, it could provide fresh ammunition for investors. Therefore, they sued VW over how long it took the company to let markets know about the scope of the scandal.