For the second time in a week, the German carmaker Audi was the target of a police raid.
On Tuesday, investigators searched offices at Audi's headquarters in Ingolstadt and a plant in Neckarsulm as well as a private home in connection with the suspected manipulation of diesel engines.
With the recent raids, the prosecutor's office has significantly widened its original investigation into the Volkswagen subsidiary.
“Our focus is now also on the use of technical devices to manipulate the emissions data for V6 3.0-liter diesel engines, which were intended for the European market,” said a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office. Diesel engines in at least 210,000 vehicles sold in Europe and the United States since 2009 might be affected.
Fourteen Audi technicians are considered suspects in the case. According to Handelsblatt's sources, they are employees who were mainly responsible for the approval of diesel vehicles and possibly knew of the manipulation of emissions tests.
In March 2017, prosecutors raided Audi to find out who was involved in the use of illicit software in 80,000 vehicles. And just last week, prosecutors had searched the homes of six current and former Audi employees.
An Audi spokesman said the company is cooperating fully with the authorities. Audi's top managers board members have not been targeted in the investigations so far. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was on a business trip in China at the time of the raid.
In recent months, two Audi employees were arrested. Wolfgang Hatz, a former executive, is still in custody.
Martin Murphy specializes in auto and defense for Handelsblatt, Volker Votsmeier is an editor with Handelsblatt’s investigative reporting team and Stephanie Ott is an editor for Handelsblatt Global in New York. To contact the authors: [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected].