Former Audi Boss Skirts Jail in First German Diesel Probe Conviction

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Rupert Stadler, the former head of Volkswagen AG’s Audi brand, sidestepped jail time after being convicted for fraud in Germany’s first criminal verdict over the diesel-emissions scandal.

Stadler, 60, was convicted Tuesday by a Munich court that gave him a suspended sentence of one year and nine months, newswire DPA reported. The ruling is part of a deal in which Stadler admitted he failed to take appropriate action to halt sales of rigged vehicles starting in 2016. He agreed to pay €1.1 million ($1.2 million) as part of the settlement.

The former Audi chief has been on trial since 2020 on allegations he didn’t stop the sale of vehicles equipped with devices to cheat emissions tests after the rigging had come to light in late 2015. After previously having denied any wrongdoing, Stadler in May admitted in a settlement with prosecutors and a Munich court that he should have stepped in to halt sales.

The Munich verdict is Germany’s first linked to the diesel scandal. Another trial against former VW managers is pending at a court in Braunschweig.

The scandal cost VW more than €30 billion. Europe’s largest automaker equipped vehicles with mechanisms that reduced emissions to within legal limits during testing even as the car polluted more than allowed under normal driving conditions.

Prior to the settlement, Stadler claimed he was misled by a group of rogue engineers over the functionalities of emissions-control software. Judges previously told him they considered the allegations as having been proven.

Prosecutors had accused him of continuing to sell cars with manipulated engines even after the scandal burst into the open in late 2015. However, the court in March limited the case to the period starting July 11, 2016, and his confession only covered that time frame.

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