Volkswagen has terminated Audi CEO Rupert Stadler’s contract against the backdrop of a criminal investigation into whether he was involved in emissions cheating by the German group.
Stadler, who began working at Audi in 1990, is the latest executive at parent company Volkswagen AG to be ousted in the wake of the diesel emissions cheating scandal that erupted three years ago.
The scandal has implicated numerous executives and several brands under VW Group, including Volkswagen, Audi and even Porsche.
Volkswagen announced it has severed ties with Audi’s CEO Rupert Stadler for his alleged involvement in the emissions cheating scandal of 2015.
The automaker said in a statement Tuesday it dismissed Stadler because of his inability to “fulfill his duties” due to his current incarceration. Stadler was arrested back in June on suspicion he had interfered with the ongoing fraud investigation into Volkswagen.
The company had been using special software designed to make its diesel cars appear to run cleaner than they actually did. Once discovered, Volkswagen admitted to rigging about 11 million diesel cars and was forced to pay over $30 billion in fines, recalls and settlements.
Following his arrest, Munich prosecutors said that Stadler, the most senior active VW official to be remanded in custody since the scandal broke, was being held on fears he might hinder their investigation.
Before becoming Audi CEO in 2007, Stadler was a confidant of, and former assistant to, then-Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piech, the scion of the group’s controlling Piech clan.
A statement from acting Audi chief Schot thanked Stadler for his 11 years at the helm, noting that the company had almost doubled its sales in that time and that Stadler had also pushed for development of electric cars.
Peter Mosch, works council chief and deputy head of Audi’s supervisory board, said the move gave the company more clarity for the future.
In July Volkswagen recruited BMW engine development and purchasing expert Markus Duesmann, who has been touted as a potential successor to Stadler as VW looks for clean-engine expertise to help it to shake off the scandal.
A source familiar with the matter said that severance payment terms for Stadler would depend on the investigators’ findings. Stadler’s VW contract was due to run to the end of next year and his Audo CEO contract to the end of 2023.