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Former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler will plead guilty to Dieselgate involvement

He will become the highest-ranking former executive to admit culpability in the scandal.

Lukas Barth / reuters

Nearly eight years after the start of Dieselgate, one of the highest-ranking executives implicated in the scandal is set to plead guilty. The New York Times reports former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has agreed to accept a plea deal that will see him confess that he allowed Audi to continue selling diesel cars even after Volkswagen, the automaker’s parent company, admitted its vehicles had illegal software designed to cheat government emissions tests. Per The Times, a Munich state court said on Wednesday that Stadler would also pay a €1.1 million fine and serve a sentence of up to two years. The former executive is expected to make his confession in about two weeks.

Since the start of his trial in 2020, Stadler had maintained he was innocent of any wrongdoing. In court, Volkswagen has insisted that Dieselgate was the work of employees who hid the software they created from the company’s leadership. While at Audi, Stadler also served as a member of Volkswagen’s management board. Alongside Stadler, German prosecutors are set to convict two other former executives: Wolfgang Hatz and Zaccheo Giovanni Pamio. The former previously led engine development at Audi and Porsche, while the latter was involved in designing the software that allowed Volkswagen vehicles to cheat emissions tests.

In 2017, Volkswagen agreed to pay $4.3 billion to settle fraud and other criminal and civil charges brought by the Department of Justice after the company admitted that nearly 600,000 diesel cars sold in the US were compromised by its “defeat device.” Those vehicles were programmed to detect when they were being tested on a set of rollers and would, as a result, produce fewer emissions than out on the road. According to court documents filed by German prosecutors, Audi engineers originally designed the software that Volkswagen would later deploy in its vehicles. Since Dieselgate came to light, the German automaker has agreed to pay more than $20 billion in fines and legal settlements.