Audi searched by German police in Dieselgate swoop

Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:40pm EDT
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By Andreas Cremer

INGOLSTADT, Germany (Reuters) - German prosecutors searched Audi's two biggest plants and other sites on Wednesday in connection with the emissions scandal still rocking parent Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE: Quote), adding to pressure on the luxury division and its Chief Executive Rupert Stadler.

Volkswagen admitted in September 2015 that up to 11 million of its vehicles worldwide had software installed that cheats emissions tests, unleashing its biggest ever crisis.

The raids, the first at Audi since VW's diesel scandal broke 18 months ago, centered on who was involved in the use of any illicit software used in 80,000 VW, Audi and Porsche cars with bigger 3.0 liter engines that were found to exceed U.S. emissions limits.

Volkswagen has already agreed to pay more than $1 billion to fix or buy back the 80,000 cars as part of an overall U.S. settlement expected to cost the group as much as $17.5 billion.

"With these search orders we aim to clarify in particular who was involved in deploying the technology concerned and in the provision of false information to third parties," the Munich prosecutor's office said in a statement on Wednesday, without naming any suspects.

It said the raids involved prosecutors from several jurisdictions and state police from Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Lower Saxony.

The police swoop coincided with a major annual press conference at which Stadler was presenting Audi's 2016 earnings - compounding the group's embarrassment.

"I have all along supported efforts to clear up the diesel issue at Audi," he told reporters, while conceding that efforts to recover from the scandal were "far from over".   Continued...

A red traffic light is seen in front of the Audi headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, March 15, 2017.     REUTERS/Lukas Barth