In context: VW and Audi management have been very protective of their executives thus far. Could the arrest of Stadler spur the company to distance itself from others suspected of involvement?

Prosecutors in Munich have arrested Audi CEO Rupert Stadler on suspicion of his involvement in parent company Volkswagen’s ongoing emissions scandal.

According to multiple reports, a German judge deemed it necessary to detain Stadler to prevent him from fleeing or hindering the investigation. Stadler is the highest-ranking Volkswagen executive to be taken into custody over the scandal.

In September 2015, it was discovered that some Volkswagens sold in the US had been equipped with software to make them run more cleanly during emissions tests. When not under the scrutiny of strict tests, select vehicles were found to pump out up to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide.

The fallout has cost the company nearly $30 billion and led to criminal charges being levied against several employees. Shortly after accusations were waged, former chief executive Martin Winterkorn resigned. He has been indicted by US authorities but is unlikely to face the charges as Germany doesn’t extradite nationals to the US.

In a statement to USA Today, Audi said it has no further comment to make on the matter, adding that the presumption of innocence continues to apply for Stadler. A spokesman for Porsche SE, which controls VW and Audi, told The Guardian that the arrest would be discussed at an upcoming supervisory board meeting.