June 18 (UPI) — Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was arrested Monday in connection with the large-scale emissions cheating scandal that enveloped parent company Volkswagen last year, German prosecutors said.
The Munich prosecutor’s office issued the warrant Monday for Stadler.
“The arrest warrant is based on concealment of evidence,” the office said, noting the possibility that Stadler could’e tampered with evidence in the far-reaching investigation.
Stadler, who has denied any involvement, was arrested on suspicion of fraud.
Audi, Volkswagen’s luxury car division and a major revenue source, has been accused of having sold at least 210,000 diesel-engine cars in the United States and Europe fitted with cheating software for emissions.
Audi is also under investigation over claims of fraud and illegal product promotion. Munich prosecutors announced last week Stadler, Audi’s CEO since 2007, and an unidentified board member were being investigated.
Volkswagen and Audi admitted in 2015 it used illegal software to cheat on emissions tests. The “defeat devices” keep emissions under the legal threshold during testing, but return them to illegal levels after the tests are finished.
The company has earmarked $31 billion for fines, penalties and buybacks of cars in 55 countries where investigations and legal proceedings are in progress. Volkswagen is also accused of stock market manipulation in Germany, and investors have said they were informed too late of the company’s problems with the cheating scandal.
Stadler has maintained his position at Audi through the backing of the Porsche and Piech families, major Volkswagen investors and heirs of the company’s founders. Volkswagen’s supervisory board was set to meet Monday, and Stadler’s future with the company could be a topic of discussion, Bloomberg News reported.
Value of Volkswagen stock fell on European exchanges Monday. It has fallen more than 5 percent since the start of the year.