Former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was given a suspended sentence of one year and nine months for fraud by negligence in the 2015 Volkswagen Group diesel scandal, becoming the first former VW Group board member to receive such a sentence.
Stadler was fined 1.1 million euros ($1.2 million), which will go to the state treasury and non-governmental organizations, the court in Munich said on Tuesday.
Audi’s parent, VW Group, and Audi admitted in 2015 to having used illegal software to cheat on emissions tests. Stadler had previously rejected the allegations.
Stadler’s trial is one of the most prominent court proceedings in the aftermath of the diesel scandal. The sentence is in the middle of the 1.5- to 2-year timeframe the judge had said the former CEO would face if he confessed to the charge.
His lawyer, Ulrike Thole-Groll, said in May that Stadler did not know that vehicles had been manipulated and buyers had been harmed, but recognized it was a possibility and accepted that there was a need for more care.
According to prosecutors, engineers manipulated engines in such a way that they complied with legal exhaust emission values on the test bench but not on the road.
Stadler, 60, was accused of failing to stop the sale of affected diesel cars in Europe even after U.S. authorities uncovered the engine-rigging. He had maintained his innocence, blaming engineers for his failure to uncover the widespread cheating, but made a confession in May.
Prosecutors had originally wanted a 2-million-euro fine, citing Stadler’s salaries at Audi and Volkswagen and his financial and real estate assets.
Two other former Audi executives on trial with Stadler — Wolfgang Hatz and Giovanni Pamio — also received fines and suspended sentences.