Pat Stadler is the highest-ranking former CEO who makes a confession in the “Dieselgate” scandal that affected Volkswagen (parent company of Audi) in 2015.
Former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler pleaded guilty during his trial in the Dieselgate case on Tuesday, admitting that he allowed sales of vehicles with software to cheat customers about emissions to continue despite knowledge of the fraud.
The confession in the Munich District Court comes within the framework of a guilty plea deal, according to which Stadler will escape serving a prison sentence, knowing that he has been on trial since 2020.
Stadler thus became the highest-ranking former CEO who made a confession in the “Diesel Gate” scandal that affected Volkswagen (the parent company of Audi) in 2015.
His lawyer, Ulrike Tol-Grul, told the court in a statement that “in the context of dealing with the diesel issue” and after the scandal became public, Stadler “neglected” to inform business partners that vehicles with these cheating programs were still on the market.
In doing so, she added, “(Stadler) agreed to sell vehicles with the illegal software.”
When asked by the judge whether the statement was true, Stadler replied, “Yes.”
And the German giant Volkswagen Group, whose subsidiaries include not only Audi, but also Porsche, Skoda and Seat, admitted in September 2015 that it had installed a program to manipulate emissions levels in 11 million diesel vehicles around the world.
These programs make the compounds appear less polluting in laboratory studies than they are in the real world.
Prior to that, Stadler, 60, had denied any wrongdoing.
But his defense team announced earlier this month that he had accepted a plea bargain that included a confession in return for a suspended prison sentence of up to two years.
Stadler also agreed to pay 1.1 million euros ($1.2 million).
The verdict is expected in June.
And last month, Wolfgang Hutz, another former Audi CEO on trial alongside Stadler, pleaded guilty, admitting that he and two colleagues arranged the installation of the emissions cheating programme.