Former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was found guilty of fraud on Tuesday, making him the highest-ranking executive convicted in the scandal involving cars that cheated on emissions testing using illicit software.
A German court sentenced Stadler to 21 months in prison suspended and ordered him to pay a $1.2 million fine, some of which will be donated to charitable organizations.
Following his guilty plea last month, his lawyers, the judge, and prosecutors reached a deal.
Stadler, the former director of Volkswagen’s premium division, admitted misconduct and expressed regret for failing to keep modified vehicles off the market after the issue became known.
The Munich regional court also sentenced the former head of engine development, Wolfgang Hatz, and a former Audi engineer, identified only as Giovanni P. for privacy reasons, to suspended prison sentences and fines.
They were accused of ensuring that diesel engines met emissions limits during testing but not on the road to save on construction costs. Prosecutors had objected to a plea agreement with Hatz. The verdicts are likely to be appealed.
It is the first criminal trial in connection with the diesel emissions scandal to conclude in Germany.
Stadler had been charged with fraud and false certification by prosecutors who said he let cars with rigged software be sold even after the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uncovered the fraud at Volkswagen and Audi in September 2015.
He was detained in 2018 and held for four months.
The 60-year-old resigned as Audi’s boss and from the Volkswagen board later that year and has since paid the company about $4.5 million in damages for failing in his oversight duties.
His boss at the time, former VW Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn, has been charged by U.S. and German authorities, but Germany does not generally extradite its citizens to countries outside the European Union.
German proceedings against Winterkorn have also been halted due to his ill health. In Braunschweig, four more cases against former Volkswagen executives are still pending.
Laurent Lafleur, a spokesman for the Munich court, said Stadler’s guilty plea, along with the considerable evidence heard throughout the trial, might play a significant role in other instances.
The diesel crisis cost Volkswagen more than $30 billion in penalties and settlements, as well as the imprisonment of two US executives.