On Thursday, a federal grand jury in Detroit, Michigan, indicted four Audi executives for playing a role in the diesel cheating scandals that rocked parent company Volkswagen Group in 2015 and 2016. The four executives—Richard Bauder, Axel Eiser, Stefan Knirsch, and Carsten Nagel—all worked for Audi in Germany, and they have not been arrested.
The four men have been charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, commit wire fraud, and violate the Clean Air Act.
This indictment says that in response to this news from CARB, Oliver Schmidt, the general manager in charge of emissions compliance for VW Group, sent an email to Knirsch, telling him that “our worst fears have come true” and that “we urgently need help with arguments.” Schmidt is one of the few VW Group managers who has actually been arrested, tried, and sentenced. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in December 2017.
As we explained in 2015:
If management learned VW engineers were able to achieve the impossible… They found a way to burn diesel in a manner which literally saved billions of dollars for the company, they would naturally want to know how it was done. This was a breakthrough. It is inconceivable that all of management wouldn’t be interested in learning at least something about how the system worked.
Basically this means all senior management could likely be liable if logic is a guide here.
In addition, we said:
There is no way a BMW engineer or one from Mercedes is going to believe they can’t achieve something Volkswagen engineers can. You see where I’m going here? It is impossible that questions about this new technology wouldn’t have come up in vehicle planning and board meetings. Moreover, auto makers routinely tear apart competitor’s cars… No other auto company evaluated this breakthrough technology in order to emulate it? Finally, none of the diesel engineers ever got hired away by rival companies?
We were right on this as well. You may recall this when you read:
- We Called The Fiat Chrysler Emissions Cheating in 2015
- Nissan Outs Mitsubishi for Cheating. No one Outed #VW
- DieselGate: We Were Right, Something Smells Awful
It is shocking how brazen a scheme this was and how it spread throughout the auto industry without governments being aware of it at all. We will see if these indictments serve as a warning to current business leaders to obey rules and regulations.