Volkswagen Shares Slide After Prosecutors Search Audi Group Offices in Emissions Probe

German prosecutors raided Audi office sites across the country on Wednesday as part of the investigation into the emissions cheating scandal that has plagued parent company Volkswagen since 2015.

Audi parent Volkswagen admitted in late 2015 to installing so-called "defeat devices" into 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide, created to reduce emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides when engines were undergoing regulatory tests.

"The execution of the search warrants is meant to clarify which persons were involved in the use of the relevant technology and, where applicable, were involved in providing inaccurate information to third parties", Heidenreich said in a statement.

VW's Wolfsburg headquarters were searched, along with Audi's Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm factories and six other unspecified sites, the group said.

Munich prosecutors searched the Audi offices in the southern state of Bavaria shortly before the auto group's chief Rupert Stadler presided over the premium carmaker's annual press conference, a company spokesman said.

The US government and VW have agreed on a so-called statement of facts recently, including accusations that Audi engineers designed a 3.0 liter diesel engine for the American market equipped with a so-called defeat device created to mislead authorities and customers on emissions.

"There is suspicion that devices were built into these vehicles to manipulate emissions readings and conform to U.S. emissions limits, without..."

The engine is said to be used in several auto models of VW, Audi as well as Porsche.

Stadler, who has been criticized for how he handled the emissions scandal, said on Wednesday that he continues to demand the VW board's full support.

Audi's 2016 results showed a 37 percent plunge in operating profit to 3.1 billion euros, causing the return on sales to fall to 5.1 percent from 8.3 percent in 2015, below a target range of 8 percent to 10 percent.

Two top engineers at Audi stepped down in the space of a year over the scandal, most recently head of technical development Stefan Knirsch in September.

  • Eleanor Harrison