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Bram Schot to be Audi's interim chief, after arrest of CEO

June 18, 2018

The German premium carmaker has moved rapidly to fill the gap left by chief executive Rupert Stadler, who was detained on Monday in connection with his role in Audi's emissions-cheating scandal in the US and Europe.

Abraham Schot, new Interim-Chief of Audi
Image: AUDI AG

Audi has named Bram Schot as interim chief on Tuesday, replacing CEO Rupert Stadler, who was detained on Monday on fraud charges, in connection with the emisssions-cheating scandal at Audi's parent company Volkswagen. The 56-year-old Netherlands-born manager was previously at the head of Audi's sales and marketing division.

"The supervisory board of Audi AG has decided to transfer the duties of the board of management chairman (chief executive) to Abraham Schot on a temporary basis with immediate effect," the German carmaker said in a statement, adding that it had complied with Stadler's request to be temporarily relieved of his duties.

Stadler had headed Audi for 11 years and was the first senior executive to be detained in the Dieselgate scandal. On Monday, prosecutors in Munich said that Stadler had appeared before the investigating judge, who ordered him to be remanded in custody.

"The arrest warrant is based on concealment of evidence," Munich prosecutors said, adding that Stadler had denied any involvement. 

Read more: Opinion: How the German car industry self-destructs

What we know so far:

  • Prosecutors have said he was detained because he posed a flight risk, according to news agency DPA.
  • Upon arrest, Stadler appeared before a judge, who ordered him to be kept in custody, pending additional charges.
  • VW is set to hold a board meeting on Monday to discuss the charges against the Audi executive.
  • Bram Schot, Audi's current head of sales and marketing, is expected to take over as CEO. 
  • Audi has not commented, except to confirm Stadler's detention.

The Audi probe: Audi has been accused of having sold at least 210,000 diesel-engine cars fitted with cheat software in the US and Europe, starting in 2009. The luxury carmaker is also being investigated for allegations of fraud and illegal product promotion. The investigation is looking into 20 Audi employees.

Stadler under investigation: Munich prosecutorsannounced on June 13 that the Audi CEO and another unnamed board member were now part of the investigation. Authorities then carried out a search of Stradler's home. Stadler has been an Audi board member since 2003 and has held its top managerial spot since 2007, two years prior to the alleged emissions-cheating activities.

Volkswagen's scandal: Volkswagen (VW) admitted in 2015 that it had used illegal software to cheat on emissions tests in diesel engines. Audi followed its parent company's admission two months later. VW has not commented on his alleged involvement, but in its 2017 annual report, the carmaker said that the decision to install illegal "defeat device" software was made by individuals below the management board level in 2006.

Read more: Dieselgate — will class-action lawsuits come to Germans' rescue?

How the scandal has affected Germany: The Dieselgate scandal has prompted a lengthy investigation, heavy fines, profit losses and numerous recalls. Consumer confidence has suffered, with diesel cars seeing a decline in sales. Adding to the industry's woes, a landmark ruling by a German court deemed it permissible for cities and communities to implement bans on old diesel. Hamburg became the first city last month to implement such ban.

jcg/kms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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