MUNICH – German prosecutors said on Wednesday that they had brought charges against former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, who is being investigated for his role in the Volkswagen Group cheating scandal with diesel emissions.
The Munich State Attorney's Office said Stadler and three other defendants are charged with false certification and criminal advertising practices.
The other three defendants are accused of developing engines used by Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche branded vehicles that included emissions cheating devices, it added.
"The accused Stadler is accused of being aware of the manipulations since the end of September 2015, but he did not prevent the sale of affected Audi and VW vehicles thereafter," the prosecutor said in a statement.
Once seen as a possible competitor for VW Group's top job, Stadler was arrested in June 201
VW Group, which has faced billions of dollars in scandal-related costs, later terminated Stadler's contract based on a criminal investigation into whether he
Prosecutors include former Audi and Porsche chief Wolfgang Hatz as well as two engineers, several people familiar with the case.
Hatz, a former R&D manager at Porsche and former head of driveline development at both Audi and VW Group, spent several months in custody in 2017 and 2018 over his alleged role in the scandal.
People familiar with the case told Reuters that Stadler and Hatz have denied wrongdoing.
The prosecutors refused to identify the other defendants, while attorneys at Stadlers and Hatz were not immediately available for comment.
Investigation against 23 additional suspects continues, prosecutor's office said.
Stadler's attorney Thilo Pfordte did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, and Audi said it would not comment beyond saying that all individuals should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
Audi, which is VW Group's largest profit center, quickly became involved in the cheating relationship and rejected VW Group's attempt to contain the fallout. The focus turned to Stadler as prosecutors sought to unravel the origin of the scandal. In the years that followed, repeated recalls of Audi vehicles over emissions performance – including Porsche cars with engines developed by the brand – continued to embellish the brand.
In April, Brunswick, Germany, former VW Group Managing Director Martin Winterkorn charged with serious fraud for his role in the diesel rigging scandal, which has so far cost the carmaker around € 30 billion ($ 33 billion).
Several investigations are pending, including a market manipulation probe aimed at the current CEO of VW Group Herbert Diess, chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch and Winterkorn over allegations that they informed the markets too late about the diesel case and its effect. Volkswagen has said it could not have foreseen the dramatic fall from the disclosures.
Bloomberg contributed to this report