Audi exec sought for extradition by U.S., report says
American authorities asked Germany to keep an executive of Volkswagen Group’s Audi unit in custody to prepare for his extradition while offering him a guilty-plea deal, Bloomberg reported.
The man, who in Germany can only be identified as "Giovanni P.," was arrested last month and is being held in Munich, the report said. His lawyers have challenged the detention but German prosecutors are opposing their bid, Andrea Grape, a spokeswoman for Munich prosecutors, said Friday. In a separate procedure, a local judge already ruled that the man must be held to allow the U.S. to make its extradition request, according to the report.
U.S. authorities offered him a seven-year sentence if he pleads guilty to charges in the U.S., his German lawyer, Walter Lechner told Bloomberg on Thursday. His client rejected the offer, he said, declining to comment further.
The U.S. Justice Department said in July it charged Pamio with conspiring to defraud U.S. regulators and consumers through software designed to falsify results in thousands of Audi vehicles marketed as “clean diesel." They already asked Germany in June to arrest the man to prepare extradition proceedings, which will now start, according to a spokesman for the Munich general prosecutor who oversees international cooperation in criminal matters.
Bloomberg said "Giovanni P." has been talking to German prosecutors, who continue to interrogate him, Grape said. While his statements are now being reviewed, the probe at the moment isn’t targeting any current or former Audi management board members, she said.
Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that "Giovanni P." claimed that top managers were involved.
Pamio was the eighth person charged in the U.S. case against Volkswagen over the diesel-emission cheating, which has cost the automaker more than $24 billion in government penalties and owner restitution. Most of the men charged so far have been German citizens who can’t be extradited to face trial in a non- European Union jurisdiction. Giovanni P. is an Italian living in Germany and in theory can be extradited, although the German case would take precedence over the U.S. charges.
An Italian citizen, Pamio worked for Audi’s diesel-engine development department in Neckarsulm, Germany. After realizing that it was impossible to calibrate a diesel engine to meet emissions standards within the company’s design constraints, Pamio directed Audi employees to implement software functions to cheat the U.S. emissions tests, the Justice Department said.
Bloomberg and Automotive News contributed to this report.