Nearly eight years after Dieselgate began, one of the highest-ranking executives implicated in the scandal is set to enter a guilty plea.
According to the New York Times, former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has agreed to accept a plea deal in which he will admit to allowing Audi to continue selling diesel cars despite Volkswagen, the automaker’s parent company, admitting its vehicles contained illegal software designed to cheat government emissions tests.
According to The Times, Stadler was sentenced to up to two years in prison and fined €1.1 million by a Munich state court on Wednesday. In roughly two weeks, the former executive is scheduled to make his confession.
Stadler has maintained his innocence since the beginning of his trial in 2020. Volkswagen has argued in court that Dieselgate was the result of staff concealing the software they produced from the company’s leadership.
Stadler was a member of Volkswagen’s management board while at Audi. Along with Stadler, two other former executives are set to be convicted by German prosecutors: Wolfgang Hatz and Zaccheo Giovanni Pamio.
The former previously led engine development at Audi and Porsche, while the latter worked on the software that allowed Volkswagen vehicles to dodge emissions testing.
Volkswagen agreed to pay $4.3 billion to settle fraud and other criminal and civil charges brought by the Department of Justice in 2017, after admitting that over 600,000 diesel cars sold in the United States were compromised by its “defeat device.”
Those vehicles were programmed to detect when they were being tested on a set of rollers and, as a result, emit fewer emissions than when they were driving on the road.
Audi employees originally devised the software that Volkswagen would eventually deploy in its vehicles, according to court documents released by German prosecutors. Since the discovery of Dieselgate, the German carmaker has agreed to pay over $20 billion in fines and court settlements.