The chief executive of Audi, the luxury automaker owned by Volkswagen, was arrested Monday on suspicion of fraud in relation to the German carmaker’s emissions-cheating scandal.
Rupert Stadler was detained a week after his home was searched and German prosecutors said he was a focus of their probe into any manipulation of Audi emissions controls.
Stadler is the first member of Volkswagen’s executive board to be arrested in connection to the diesel emissions investigation. In 2015, Volkswagen was discovered to have been using software during emissions testing to manipulate results.
Munich prosecutors said in a statement that Stadler was detained out of concern that he would suppress evidence needed for their investigation.
Mark Clothier, a spokesman for Audi, confirmed the arrest and declined to comment further because the investigation is ongoing. He added that the “presumption of innocence continues to apply” for Stadler.
Volkswagen said three years ago that as many as 11 million of its vehicles were equipped with software meant to deceive emissions tests, including at least two million Audis.
The company has pleaded guilty to fraud in the United States and charged $25 billion in fines, penalties and restitution for owners and car dealers. Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive of Volkswagen, resigned after the carmaker admitted to using the software.
Audi was asked to recall about 24,000 A7 and A8 models that it produced between 2009 and 2013.