Rupert Stadler, who has worked for Audi parent company Volkswagen since 1990, has been arrested in Germany for suspected emissions cheating in diesel cars which were sold across the United States and Europe.
Stadler, 55, is the highest ranking Volkswagen executive to be arrested in connection to a costly diesel emissions scandal. The scandal was brought in public in 2015.
Munich prosecutors said on Monday, June 18, that Stadler had been captured because of concerns he could influence witnesses in an ongoing fraud investigation on emissions cheating in diesel cars.
VIDEO: Audi CEO Rupert Stadler arrested in diesel-cheating probe
Prosecutors said they have opened a criminal investigation into potential fraud by a number of Audi employees, including Stadler and 19 others. The case is related to suspected emissions cheating in 240 thousand diesel cars that were sold in the United States and Europe.
The Volkswagen spokesman Nicolai Laude confirmed that Stadler had been arrested, but has declined to make any comments regarding the investigation. Laude has mentioned that the company's supervisory board would discuss the matter.
The principle of the presumption of innocence continues to apply to Mr. Stadler,
Laude said in his statement.
Munich prosecutors said the last week they had searched Stadler's home for evidence as a part of a year long-ongoing investigation. Prosecutors said Stalder, who was appointed to Volkswagen's management board in 2010, would be set free in case he cooperates during the investigation.
The arrest came just days after Germany imposed a €1 billion ($1.2 billion) penalty on Volkswagen for rigging diesel engine emissions across the globe.
Volkswagen has admitted that the company cheated on emissions tests, rigging millions of diesel engines.
Diesel cars from Volkswagen and its Audi subsidiary cheated on clean air rules using software that made emissions to look less toxic than they actually were.
VIDEO: Reports has that Volkswagen scandal could cost up to $30 billion
The scandal has already cost Volkswagen over $30 billion in recalls, legal penalties, and settlements, which might rise in number as consumers are losing their confideine in the company.