Arrested Audi Manager Is Said to Be Man Charged in U.S.

  • Separate German probe may stand in way of extradition
  • Pamio is the eighth person charged in U.S. diesel probe

Munich prosecutors arrested a former manager at Volkswagen AG’s Audi unit in a probe of the diesel-emissions scandal three days before he was charged by the U.S. Justice Department, two people familiar with the case said.

Giovanni Pamio was arrested Monday by Munich prosecutors, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the arrest details are confidential.

Munich prosecutors said earlier Friday that they were targeting individuals for the first time in their Audi investigation, including the latest arrest, spokeswoman Andrea Grape said. She declined to identify him and said that the move wasn’t made at the request of U.S. authorities. Munich prosecutors haven’t received an extradition request, she said.

The 60-year-old Pamio is the eighth person charged in the U.S. probe into Volkswagen’s efforts to cheat on diesel emissions tests. The company is paying more than $24 billion in fines and restitution to car owners related to the scandal.

Audi declined to comment or give contact details for Pamio.

The U.S. alleged that Pamio conspired to defraud U.S. regulators and consumers through software designed to falsify results in thousands of Audi vehicles marketed as “clean diesel," the Justice Department said Thursday.

Still, Pamio’s arrest might frustrate any effort by U.S. prosecutors to bring VW officials to America to face trial. 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.

Pamio is an Italian living in Germany and in theory can be extradited, although any German probe would take precedence over the U.S. charges.

"Prosecutors won’t agree to an extradition as long as their own probe here hasn’t been finalized," said Oliver Wallasch, a Frankfurt criminal defense lawyer who isn’t involved in the case. "Now that they were able to get someone for themselves, they’re unlike to turn around and just ship him to the U.S."

Even after a German case, the former manager could fight his extradition and claim he would be prosecuted for the same offense twice as the German and DOJ investigators are both looking at allegations regarding U.S. car sales. A suspect can file multiple appeals that may delay the process for a year, according to Wallasch.

Munich prosecutors started to look into Audi’s role in 2015, shortly after VW admitted it used software to circumvent emissions standards in the U.S. For 1 1/2 years, the probe was directed against unnamed people. The fact that Munich prosecutors have now identified suspects indicates that the investigations have uncovered evidence supporting the allegations.

Before being suspended, 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.

— With assistance by Tom Schoenberg

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