Driving accountability: A nozzle hangs from a bottle of AdBlue pollutant neutralizing fluid beside an Audi AG A5 diesel car. Picture: BLOOMBERG/ALEX KRAUS
Driving accountability: A nozzle hangs from a bottle of AdBlue pollutant neutralizing fluid beside an Audi AG A5 diesel car. Picture: BLOOMBERG/ALEX KRAUS

Audi’s famous slogan, "Vorsprung durch technik" may be due for a makeover. "Vorsprung durch betrug," anyone?

Because when advancement through technology isn’t going fast enough, you cheat the numbers.

This is what German law enforcement believes happened at Volkswagen when the company’s information about its diesel engines was made more palatable for consumers.

The Volkswagen scandal broke a while back, and the car maker has long admitted to betruging the numbers, but this week there was a new development. Audi head Rupert Stadler and Audi head of purchasing Bernd Martens were named as suspects in the ongoing criminal investigation into the company’s top management.

Audi — Volkswagen’s biggest earnings contributor, according to Bloomberg — has been at the centre of the diesel-rigging row.

It appears that the polizei are closing in on top management after they were implicated by two other managers being held in pretrial detention.

The timing of the latest move was awkward: Volkswagen was presenting a programme to the media called Together4Integrity, which "aims to show that ethical behaviour is the responsibility of all employees", Bloomberg reported.

Volkswagen’s board appeared blind-sided by Stadler’s arrest when it assembled for a routine meeting at the company’s Wolfsburg headquarters on Monday. The board — rather like the ANC’s North West province — was unable to agree on a new leader for Audi after a six-hour debate.

For now it looks as if the costly emissions fiasco — the company has budgeted about US$30bn to pay fines and settle legal wrangles — is set to drag on.

The incident has revealed just how thorough and determined the German authorities are when it comes to white-collar crime.

You wouldn’t want to be a Steinhoff executive who was around when the shenanigans were going on in Germany, would you?

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