Berlin: The head of Volkswagen AG’s Audi brand was named a suspect in the diesel-rigging scandal, making him the highest-ranking active official in a probe that’s now focusing on upper management nearly three years after the carmaker admitted to cheating.
The homes of Rupert Stadler and another Audi board member were raided on Monday, Munich prosecutors said in an emailed statement. Both are being investigated for fraud and falsifying public documents relating to sales of diesel cars in Europe.
The second suspect is Bernd Martens, Audi’s head of purchasing, according to a person familiar with the investigation who declined to be identified because prosecutors haven’t disclosed the name. Martens led a diesel task force at Audi, which was set up to coordinate the handling of the crisis with the parent company.
The news hit as Volkswagen was briefing journalists at its Wolfsburg headquarters on efforts to bolster internal compliance and integrity programs.
VW has faced a barrage of investigations and lawsuits since US authorities disclosed in September 2015 that the carmaker had rigged engines on 11 million diesel models to cheat on emissions tests.
VW has earmarked more than $29.5 billion to pay fines, settlements and other costs.