German prosecutors have filed fraud charges against three former board members and a retired former employee of automaker Audi.
This is the latest legal development in the “dieselgate” scandal, in which companies and executives allegedly broke emissions rules.
Audi is part of Volkswagen, which in 2015 admitted to cheating emissions tests on 11 million vehicles worldwide.
Former Audi boss Rupert Stadler is already facing charges related to the case.
Munich prosecutors said Thursday that the last four defendants were charged with “fraud, indirect false certification and criminal publicity.” They have not been named.
The former senior official indicted Thursday is accused of having initiated the development of engines for Audi, VW and Porsche vehicles equipped with so-called “defeat devices”, engine software masking the levels of emissions.
The three former members of the board are accused of having been aware of the manipulations and of having initiated or failed to prevent new sales of the Audi and VW vehicles concerned at various times between October 2013 and September 2015.
Prosecutors said one of the people lied to Audi about his involvement in the manipulations before his promotion to the board in 2016.
Audi confirmed the charges in a statement, saying it would continue to “fully cooperate with investigating authorities to reconstruct the circumstances which led to the diesel crisis”.
So far, Dieselgate has cost VW more than 30 billion euros (£ 27 billion) in compensation, fines and the costs of engine grinding.
Former Audi chief executive Stadler, 57, is due to appear in German court later this year. He was at the helm of Audi for 11 years when he was arrested in June 2018.
Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, who was in charge of Europe’s largest car group when the cheating was discovered, has also been charged and is awaiting trial.
Former Audi and VW manager Axel Eiser was arrested in Croatia in June on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by the United States.
In February, VW struck a compensation deal with German consumer groups representing car owners caught up in the scandal. But lawsuits continue elsewhere, including by motorists in the UK.
Several other automakers are also said to have falsified pollution levels. And in July, offices across Europe were raided on suspicion that Fiat Chrysler and truck maker Iveco could also have fitted vehicles with illegal defeat devices.