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Volkswagen's ex-engine chief arrested in emissions probe

Staff Writer |
A former Volkswagen's engine chief was arrested in connection with its rigging of diesel-powered cars to dupe regulators.

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Wolfgang Hatz was arrested on Wednesday and arraigned before a judge in Munich on Thursday, after which he was held in pretrial detention, the person said. It wasn't immediately clear whether Hatz would be released on bail.

The arrest is significant because Hatz oversaw engine development at the time Volkswagen engineers devised a plan to install illegal software on some diesel engines to make them appear as though they could meet strict restrictions on tailpipe emissions in the U.S.

Hatz, the most senior executive to be arrested in the investigation, was also a confidant of Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive of Volkwagen who resigned days after the scandal was made public.

Winterkorn has denied any knowledge of the use of illegal engine software to game emissions tests.

A motor-racing enthusiast, Mr. Hatz joined Volkswagen in 2001 and spent much of his career in engine development, with earlier stints at BMW, Opel and Fiat. He ran Audi's engine-development program from 2001 to 2007, when he also served as Volkswagen's engine chief.

In 2011, he was made a board member at Porsche AG, Volkswagen's sports-car maker, in charge of research and development.

At Porsche, he was instrumental in developing the engine with which Porsche won the 24-hour Le Mans race in 2015.

He also played a key role in developing Porsche's first electric sports car, the "Mission E," meant to rival Tesla cars when it is launched in 2019.

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