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Police Search Audi As The Automaker Holds Annual Press Conference

Even as Audi CEO Rupert Stadler discussed the automaker's financial results Wednesday, 70 investigators swooped down on VW, Audi and other sites seeking more evidence in the ongoing Dieselgate scandal.

While Dieselgate is finally winding down in the United States, it is still quite active in Europe as prosecutors seek to determine who did what and when. For example, Wednesday, German prosecutors conducted raids and searched Audi’s two biggest plants, in the ongoing scandal. Investigators also searched four other sites, including Volkswagen headquarters, in the scandal that is still roiling the automaker. Slowly, but surely Volkswagen is covereing from its self-inflicted emissions scandal

Automotive News Europe, Reuters, and Bloomberg said VW’s luxury division is feeling increased pressure from the raids as is Rupert Stadler, chief executive of Audi. Wednesday’s raids sought information on potential suspects in rigging 80,000 VW, Porsche and Audi vehicles with software that allowed the 3.0-liter, V-6 turbodiesels to exceed U.S. nitrous oxide (NOx) limits.

VW Has Admitted Guilt

In the 18 months since VW acknowledged that it rigged the motors, prosecutors have conducted other raids at other VW offices in Germany. Also, authorities have conducted raids in Italy and France. Those searches sought evidence in the emissions fraud carried out by the automaker. VW had admitted rigging up to 11 million vehicles worldwide with the cheatware that allowed the automaker to fool emissions tests in the U.S. The resulting crisis has spun out of control, at times, to the point where it has taken on a life of its own.

In the U.S., the emissions scandal has cost the automaker nearly $25 billion in fines and penalties. Also, the automaker pleaded guilty to fraud, obstructing justice and knowingly importing vehicles with cheating software installed. U.S. authorities charged six current, and former VW executives, though the U.S. only has one in custody, the other five remain in Germany. Audi has also fired four managers in the scandal.

The settlement of the U.S. portion of the so-called Dieselgate scandal has come in two sections. The first involved 475,000 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel powerplants; the second involved 80,000 3.0-liter V-6 engines installed in Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen vehicles.

Wednesday’s raids occurred coincidentally enough as the Volkswagen Group and Audi were holding their annual press conference where they discuss the state of the automaker for the world press. “With these search orders we aim to clarify in particular who was involved in deploying the technology concerned and in the provision of false information to third parties,” the Munich prosecutor’s office said in a statement. Prosecutors did not name any suspects. The raids involved prosecutors in several jurisdictions, as well as state police from Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, and Lower Saxony. They also said they learned of the annual Audi press conference when it was too late to cancel them.

Stadler Obviously Embarrassed

As the police moved in, an obviously embarrassed Stadler told reporters that he had “all along supported efforts to clear up the diesel issue at Audi.” He further told reporters that efforts to end the scandal were “far from over.”

About 70 police and prosecutors conducted the search of sites at VW’s Wolfsburg headquarters and Audi’s Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm factories. There were other unnamed sites examined as well.

Source: Automotive News