Seven months after federal authorities charged six Volkswagen executives for their part in the company’s “dieselgate” scandal, they are turning their sights toward leaders at VW’s luxury sibling Audi, accusing a former executive of giving orders that led to the diesel engine cheating scandal.
On Thursday, the Department of Justice announced charges [PDF] of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., wire fraud, and violation of the Clean Air Act have been filed against Giovanni Pamio, former Thermodynamics within Audi’s Diesel Engine Development Department in Germany.
The charges stem from 60-year-old Pamio’s alleged role in the long running dieselgate scandal in which more than 500,000 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles in the U.S. were equipped with so-called defeat devices designed to skirt federal emissions standards.
According to the criminal complaint, from 2006 to Nov. 2015 Pamio — an Italian citizen — led a team of engineers responsible for designing emissions control systems to meet emissions standards, including for nitrogen oxides for diesel vehicles in the U.S.
The complaint alleges that when Pamio and co-conspirators realized they couldn’t calibrate a diesel engine that would meet NOx emissions standards, Pamio “directed Audi employees to design and implement software functions to cheat U.S. emissions tests.”
This software, according to the complaint, was referred to by Pamio and others as the “dosing strategy,” which varied the injection levels of AdBlue into the vehicle’s exhaust system depending on whether the vehicle was being tested.
For instance, during regular driving, the vehicle used substantially less AdBlue — a urea substance that converts NOx into nitrogen, water, and small amounts of carbon dioxide — in order to limit consumption, and had correspondingly higher NOx emissions.
Pamio also allegedly directed employees to implement a defeat device that was referred to as the “warm-up function.” The device used the recirculation of exhaust gas to warm up the catalyst, optimizing AdBlue use and allowing the vehicle to stay within emission limits.
Pamio and co-conspirators then “deliberately failed to disclose the software functions, misrepresented, and caused to be misrepresented, to the regulators and U.S. customers, that the vehicles complied with U.S. NOx emissions standards, when they knew the vehicles did not.”
It’s unclear if Pamio has been arrested. However, the Associated Press reports that a former employee of VW’s Audi unit was arrested by German prosecutors on Friday.