The former CEO of Audi, a Volkswagen subsidiary, tried in Germany in the "dieselgate" case, said he was ready on Wednesday to plead guilty in the scandal of rigged diesel engines, announced his lawyers in court. While he has so far disputed the charges, Rupert Stadler will plead guilty as part of an agreement with the Munich Regional Court. In exchange for the confession, he should receive a suspended prison sentence of up to two years and pay a fine of 1.1 million euros.
The 60-year-old former boss of the ring firm is the main defendant in the first criminal trial opened in Germany to try the global dieselgate scandal. He has been appearing for two and a half years alongside other former Volkswagen executives. Rupert Stadler's formal confession is expected in two weeks. They are a prerequisite for the plea agreement to be validated. Ultimate step, the court should render its judgment in June, according to a judicial source.
Rupert Stadler had always denied any responsibility in the case of the rigged engines, claiming that he had been duped by his technicians. But the court came to the conclusion that the leader should have recognized by July 2016 at the latest that the emission values of diesel cars could be manipulated. Instead of stopping the illegal scheme and informing business partners, he continued to support the sale of fake cars. Consequently, the court is moving towards a prison sentence for “fraud by omission” but which will be suspended due to the confessions, albeit late.
Other counts of "issuing false certificates" and "misleading advertising" were dropped during the trial. Rupert Stadler accepted the guilty plea, as did the other two defendants at trial: former Audi and Porsche executive Wolfgang Hatz and Audi engineer Giovanni Pamio. Both can hope for a reduced sentence. The prosecution, however, refuses the principle of a suspended sentence for Wolfgang Hatz. If the judge follows this advice, the defendant still risks a prison sentence.
The automotive giant Volkswagen admitted in September 2015 that it had installed devices in 11 million vehicles of the group's brands that made them appear, during laboratory tests, to be less polluting than they actually were. The dieselgate caused a worldwide scandal and heavily tarnished the reputation of the German automobile industry.