Stefan Knirsch, among the indicted, presenting the then-new Audi SQ7 TDI
Image: AP Images

Audi officials Richard Bauder, Axel Eisner, Stefan Knirsch, and Carsten Nagel have been indicted and charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and violation of the Clean Air Act. The indictments by grand jury in Detroit, related to the quartet’s alleged role in Audi AG’s plot to cheat emission standards, were released Thursday. If convicted, each charge is punishable by up to 20 years in U.S. federal prison, according to this report by The Detroit News.

Bauder was the head of Audi’s diesel engine development, says The Detroit News, while Eisner was his boss in charge of engine development in Ingolstadt. Knirsch meanwhile, was Eisner’s counterpart in Neckarsulm. Nagel was the head of Audi’s engine registration and testing department.

Considering the access that these four gentlemen had within Audi, especially as it relates to the development of the so-called “Clean Diesel” program, the indictments are hardly a surprise.

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Volkswagen and Audi have already admitted to emissions test tricking software, which lead to some cars emitting up to 40 times more nitrogen oxide than legally allowed. As a result, Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche have all ceased diesel sales in the U.S. market. The diesel cheating scandal has sparked initiatives for all three automakers to delve deep into the world of electric zero emissions vehicles in an effort to clean up their collective image.

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Six other Volkswagen AG executives were similarly charged in 2017, and the company itself was forced to pay out $2.8 billion in criminal fines, as well as $1.5 billion in civil penalties. Fiat Chrysler recently agreed to an $800 million settlement to similar diesel cheating allegations.