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Ex-Audi boss convicted of fraud in automaker’s diesel emissions scandal

BERLIN (AP) – Former Audi boss Rupert Stadler was convicted of fraud yesterday in connection with the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal, making him the highest-ranking executive found guilty over cars that cheated on emissions tests with the help of illegal software.

A German court handed Stadler a suspended prison sentence of 21 months and ordered him to pay a fine of EUR1.1 million (USD1.2 million), some of which will go to charitable groups.

The sentence resulted from an agreement between his lawyers, the judge and prosecutors after he pleaded guilty last month.

The former head of Volkswagen’s luxury division admitted wrongdoing and regret for his failure to keep rigged cars off the market even after the scandal had become public knowledge. The Munich regional court also sentenced former head of engine development Wolfgang Hatz and a former Audi engineer, identified only as Giovanni P, to suspended prison sentences and fines. They were accused of ensuring that diesel engines met emissions limits during testing but not on the road to save on construction costs. Prosecutors had objected to a plea agreement with Hatz. The verdicts are likely to be appealed.

The court already closed a case in April against a fourth defendant who testified for the prosecution and ordered him to pay a fine.

It is the first criminal trial to conclude in Germany in connection with the diesel emissions scandal.

Stadler had been charged with fraud and false certification by prosecutors who said he let cars with rigged software be sold even after the United States Environmental Protection Agency uncovered the fraud at Volkswagen and Audi in September 2015.

Former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler. PHOTO: AP