Volkswagen on Tuesday terminated Audi Chief Executive Officer Rupert Stadler after lengthy discussions between the automaker's legal team and its board of directors. Stadler, who has been jailed since June in Germany, was also stripped of his position on VW's board of management.
"Due to his ongoing pretrial detention, he is unable to fulfill his duties as a member of the board of management and wishes to concentrate on his defense," VW said in a statement. Replacing Stadler in the interim will be sales executive Bram Schot. VW in its statement also maintained its position that Stadler is innocent until proven otherwise.
Stadler was suspended as CEO after authorities arrested the executive this past June. German authorities took him into custody over concerns he would suppress evidence related to VW's dieselgate scandal, which unfolded dramatically in late 2015. He'll also be questioned about whether he acted quickly enough to halt deliveries of Audi vehicles featuring the infamous "defeat device" once the cheat had been discovered.
Stadler's firing follows a staggering number of executive shuffles at VW since dieselgate broke three years ago. Former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down from his role following the scandal and has since been charged in the United States. Former CEO Mattias Müller, who took over immediately after the scandal broke in September 2015, was ousted as CEO in April and replaced by Herbert Diess. Porsche powertrain boss Jörg Kerner also has been arrested by German authorities and Oliver Schmidt, a former VW engineer, was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2017.
The fallout from dieselgate has so far cost the automaker $30 billion buybacks, fixes, and fines in Europe and North America. The figure will likely grow once Germany concludes its investigation.