Former Audi boss charged in VW dieselgate scandal

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Rupert Stadler
Rupert Stadler was arrested last year

German authorities have charged the former boss of Audi with fraud as part of an investigation into the VW emissions-cheating scandal.

Rupert Stadler is also accused of false certification and criminal advertising practices.

Prosecutors claim he knew that hundreds of thousands of Audi, Porsche and VW cars contained software designed to cheat pollution tests, yet turned a blind eye.

Mr Stadler has denied wrongdoing.

The VW dieselagate scandal erupted in September 2015 when it emerged VW had installed so-called “cheat devices” in 600,000 vehicles sold in the US and millions more globally.

Since then the carmaker, which owns Audi and Porsche, has had to set aside around $30bn to cover fines and settlements.

Former VW boss Martin Winterkorn also has been charged with fraud, while many others remain under investigation.

On Wednesday, the public prosecutor’s office in Munich said that Mr Stadler faced charges over the affair along with three other defendants who were not named.

‘Aware of manipulations’

The prosecutor said his indictment related to roughly 250,000 Audi-branded cars, 112,000 Porsches and 72,000 Volkswagen cars that were sold in the US and Europe.

“Defendant Stadler is accused of having been aware of the manipulations since the end of September 2015 at the latest, but he did not prevent the sale of affected Audi and VW vehicles thereafter,” the prosecutor said.

“Vehicles with the engines concerned were subsequently sold in large numbers and placed on the market.”

Mr Stadler was arrested last June and spent time in custody as part of a wider probe into emissions cheating at Audi. Volkswagen later ended his contract citing the criminal investigation.

On Wednesday, Audi said it was in the interest of the company, its shareholders and employees to clarify the issues that led to the diesel crisis.

But it added: “Until this has happened, the presumption of innocence must prevail.”

Airbnb

An Airbnb host who rented out his central London council flat to tourists has been fined £100,000 and evicted.

Airbnb told BBC News the council property listing had been removed from its website earlier this year.

“We regularly remind hosts to check and follow local rules – including on subsidised housing – and we take action on issues brought to our attention,” said a spokeswoman.

“Airbnb is the only platform that works with London to limit how often hosts can share their space and we support proposals from the mayor of London for a registration system to help local authorities regulate short-term lets and ensure rules are applied equally to hosts on all platforms in the capital.”

Airbnb app on a phoneThe London Airbnb market has quadrupled since 2015

Westminster Council said it was currently investigating at least 1,500 properties in the borough for short-term letting.

“Social housing is there to provide much-needed homes for our residents, not to generate illicit profits for dishonest tenants,” the council’s Andrew Smith said.

“It’s illegal for council tenants to sublet their homes and we carry out tenancy checks, as well as monitoring short-term letting websites for any potential illegal sublets.

“Along with a six-figure unlawful profit order, by getting a possession order, we can now reallocate the property to someone in genuine need of a home.

“We’re also pressing government to introduce a national registration scheme to make it far easier for us to take action against anyone who breaks the rules on short term letting.”

London’s Airbnb market has quadrupled since 2015, from 20,000 to 80,000 listings.

One of the most popular areas for Airbnb listings in the country is Shoreditch, particularly the area around Brick Lane

British Airways says services getting back to normal as strike ends

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BA planes
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British Airways says about 90% of services will run as normal on Wednesday as the airline recovers from a two-day strike by pilots.

However, BA said its full schedule would not be in place for “some time” as 150 aircraft and 700 pilots started the day “in the wrong place”.

BA cancelled almost all its flights on Monday and Tuesday in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Another strike by pilots is planned for later this month.

BA said on Wednesday: “The nature of our highly complex, global operation means that it will take some time to get back to a completely normal flight schedule however, we plan to fly more than 90% of our flights today.”

About half of the airline’s 300 aircraft are out of position. And in addition to pilots being in the wrong place, BA said there was severe disruption to rosters for its 4,000 cabin crew.

The airline is offering affected customers refunds or the option to re-book to another date of travel or an alternative airline.

Balpa said that the strikes had been a “powerful demonstration of the strength of feeling of BA pilots”.

Tens of thousands of flights had to be cancelled, costing BA an estimated £40m a day.

It called on the airline to come “back to the negotiating table with some meaningful proposals” to try to avert the next scheduled strike, on 27 September.

Balpa general secretary, Brian Strutton, said: “Surely any reasonable employer would listen to such a clear message, stop threatening and bullying, and start working towards finding a solution.”

Pilots had previously rejected an 11.5% pay increase over three years proposed by BA in July.

Balpa says its members have taken lower pay rises and made sacrifices during more stringent times for the airline in recent years.

But it says that now BA’s financial performance has improved – its parent company IAG reported a 9% rise in profits last year – they should see a greater share of the profits.

BA has said its pilots are already paid “world-class” salaries, and has described the pay offer as “fair and generous”.