VIENNA -- Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has stepped down from leadership roles at the Piech family foundation, Austrian company filings showed.
Stadler was a close confidant of former Volkswagen Group Chairman Ferdinand Piech, having worked as Piech's chief of staff before rising to the post of Audi CEO.
Company filings showed that Stadler no longer works for the Ferdinand Karl Beta Privatstiftung, and has also stepped down from the Ferdinand Karl Alpha Privatstiftung.
Stadler's exit from the foundation was requested on Feb. 3, 2017, the filings showed.
Stadler is a protege of Piech and ran Piech's office from 1997 to 2002 when Piech was VW Group CEO. But Stadler's closeness to Piech is now more of a liability than an advantage since Piech fell out with VW's leadership, Handelsblatt reported.
Stadler has faced criticism for reacting too slow to Audi's involvement in parent VW Group's emissions-rigging scandal. Observers also say his dual role as Audi CEO and as a representative of Piech, a large shareholder in VW Group, could lead to a conflict of interest, the paper said.
Piech owns just under 15 percent of Porsche Automobil Holding SE, VW Group's largest shareholder. Piech's stake in Porsch SE is worth 20 billion euros ($21 billion), Handelsblatt said.
Automotive News Europe contributed to this report