Volkswagen has argued that there was no substantive evidence to
justify such as step prior to the publication of accusations by U.S.
environmental regulators in September 2015, whereas the plaintiffs
claim that senior staff at the company knew in detail about the
illegal practices as early as June 2008.
The Braunschweig State Prosecution Office currently lists 49
suspects in its investigations into emissions-cheating at German
A small number of senior Volkswagen executives, including former
Chief Executive Officer Winterkorn, his successor and current CEO
Herbert Diess and board chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch are believed to
have potentially committed "market manipulation" offenses under
German laws governing the conduct of publicly-listed companies.
Speaking at Volkswagen’s latest Annual General Meeting (AGM),
Diess argued that long-term commercial success could only be secured
with a corporate culture centered on "decency".
As a consequence, the Dax-listed firm needed to become "more
honest" and "more transparent" in the way it conducted business.
Audi CEO to remain in German
BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) --
The Munich District Court rejected on Monday a
request by Audi CEO Rupert Stadler to be released from police
custody after being imprisoned eight weeks ago in the course of
ongoing "dieselgate" investigations in Germany.
A spokesperson for the court told press that Stadler remained
under urgent suspicion of having known of diesel emissions-cheating
practices at Audi without halting the sale of affected vehicles.
Additionally, the arrest warrant delivered to the CEO was not
overturned because of a danger of collusion still posed by the
Stadler had filed a legal complaint in the hope of being set free
as he is awaiting the formal opening of a court trial to probe
Audi’s involvement in the "dieselgate" scandal.
Stadler and another unnamed senior manager at the Volkswagen
Group subsidiary Audi are suspected of offenses of criminal fraud
and "indirect false certification" in the marketing of diesel
vehicles which were fitted with defeat devices to understate their
actual Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions.
German investigators believe that the Ingolstadt-based luxury
carmaker has sold at least 210,000 diesel vehicles with illegal
emissions-cheating software in the United States and Europe since
The suspended CEO has already provided a first testimony to
prosecutors while imprisoned at the Augsburg-Gablingen penitentiary
facility near Munich.
It remains unclear, however, whether or not he denied the
accusations against him.
Stadler has been temporarily replaced in his role on the Audi
management board by Bram Schot.
Volkswagen has hesitated to fire Stadler prior to a conclusion of
judicial proceedings against him and has only suspended the jailed
CEO whose regular contract is scheduled to expire in 2022.
The arrest marked the first time that a member of the management
board of a German carmaker was taken into police custody in the "dieselgate"
German city of Frankfurt to
enact diesel driving ban in 2019
BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) --
The city of Frankfurt must ban certain types of
highly-polluting diesel vehicles from its streets in order to
improve local air quality, the Wiesbaden administrative court ruled
on Wednesday evening (CET).
The judges hereby sided with the German Environmental Relief
group (DUH) in a closely-watched lawsuit which the non-governmental
organization (NGO) had filed against the Hesse state government.
In its verdict, the Wiesbaden administrative court agreed with
the DUH that existing clean air regulations in Germany’s fifth
largest city were insufficient to protect citizens from health risks
posed by nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.
As a consequence, state authorities were ordered to pass
legislation to prohibit diesel vehicles with "Euro4" and older motor
classifications, as well as "Euro1" and "Euro2" petroleum vehicles
from entering the Hesse regional capital as of February 2019.
The ban will also apply to more recent "Euro5" diesel vehicles
from September 2019 onwards.
Presiding judge Rolf Hartman argued that the driving ban had
become necessary because all other measures considered by the state
government would fail to produce an "effective reduction of NOx
emissions" within an acceptable timeframe.
"We must realize that this (case) is about the dangers to the
health of us all", Hartmann said.
The Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) estimates that diesel
vehicles are responsible for more than 50 percent of harmful NOx
emissions in Germany, the actual pollution levels of which were
previously often obscured by carmakers’ installation of illicit
defeat devices in the ongoing "dieselgate" scandal.
In light of the repeated failure of several German cities to
comply with binding European Union (EU) limits on urban NOx levels,
the Federal Administrative Court ruled in February that municipal
governments could impose their own driving bans to address the
Even prior to the conclusion of trial on Wednesday, the Wiesbaden
court had signalled that it would not shy away from forcing
Frankfurt to make use of the right which was granted to German
cities in the earlier landmark ruling.
Hartmann urged the Hesse government to elaborate a new air
pollution control plan with concrete emissions limits and deadlines
to ensure that NOx levels began to fall again in the city as soon as
However, the city of Frankfurt expressed disappointment at the
looming prospect of court-ordered driving bans.
"The citizens and cities are now being made to pay for the
failures of the automotive industry and the federal government",
municipal traffic minister Klaus Oesterling (SPD) complained.
Oesterling demanded financial assistance from the state- and
federal government in implementing the verdict, not least with view
to the required modernization of a fleet of roughly 340 busses used
for public transportation.
By contrast, the DUH welcomed the development as "clearing the
path to clean air."
The group has filed similar lawsuits to achieve bans in most of
the 67 German cities where NOx emissions continue to exceed EU
Growing pressure to act on polluting diesel vehicles is now also
being exerted on German authorities from abroad.
The Brussels-based EU Commission is in the process of suing the
federal government in Berlin before the European Court of Justice
for long-standing national non-compliance with the bloc’s clean air
Earlier, Hamburg became the first city in Germany to impose an at
least partial driving ban on older diesel vehicles on two
centrally-located district of Altona.
According to the UBA, driving bans in German cities could only
realistically be averted if older diesel vehicles undergo
comprehensive technical retro-fitting efforts resisted as too costly
and complicated by carmakers and federal transport minister Andreas
Dieselgate: Compliance auditor now demands
further governance reforms from Volkswagen