Top Porsche Official Targeted in German Police Raid Tied to Diesel Scheme

FRANKFURT — A top executive at Volkswagen’s Porsche unit was among those targeted when dozens of police officers raided the sports car maker’s headquarters on Wednesday as part of an investigation into emissions cheating, German prosecutors said.

The raid at Porsche’s offices in Stuttgart and searches at several other locations, including the Ingolstadt offices of the carmaker’s sibling company Audi, created new challenges for Volkswagen as it struggles to move past a diesel-emissions scandal that began in 2015.

Sports cars and luxury sports utility vehicles made by Porsche, which had been relatively unscathed by the scandal so far, account for a disproportionate share of Volkswagen’s profits. Any harm to Porsche’s reputation could have significant financial consequences for its parent company.

The raids will also test whether Herbert Diess, Volkswagen’s newly appointed chief executive, will be more aggressive than his predecessor, Matthias Müller, in clearing out managers who took part in a widespread conspiracy to conceal excess diesel emissions from regulators in the United States and Europe.

Stuttgart prosecutors said in their statement on Wednesday that suspects in their investigation included a member of Porsche’s management board and a high-ranking manager below the board level. A third suspect is no longer at the company, the prosecutors said. Consistent with German confidentiality rules, they declined to identify the suspects in line with Germany confidentiality rules.

Spokesmen for Porsche and Volkswagen also declined to identify the suspects, and did not announce any changes to the Porsche board. A Volkswagen spokesman said that no one on the company’s management board was among the suspects. That would appear to rule out Oliver Blume, Porsche’s chief executive and a member of both companies’ boards.

But the presence of criminal suspects in high-level positions suggests that Volkswagen has not entirely rid itself of those who may have played roles in the scandal.

The scope of the raid on Wednesday, which involved 33 prosecutors and 160 police officers, indicated that the German authorities were still devoting substantial resources to the inquiry despite not yet filing criminal charges in the matter.

Volkswagen is likely to face additional unfavorable revelations as prosecutors complete their inquiry, probably toward the end of the year, and begin to make arrests. The negative publicity will complicate Mr. Diess’s efforts to lead Europe’s biggest carmaker as it tries to move past the scandal and to navigate a shift in the industry toward electric-powered and autonomous vehicles.

Mr. Diess, a former BMW executive, was named chief executive of Volkswagen last week after spending almost three years as head of the division that manufactures Volkswagen-brand cars. He is regarded as less burdened by the scandal because he joined Volkswagen only two months before the cheating was revealed.

The raids on Wednesday, which were prompted by suspicions of illegal manipulation of vehicle emissions and false advertising, were a reminder that the cheating scandal could continue to damage Volkswagen’s reputation.

The Stuttgart prosecutors said in a statement that they had searched 10 buildings in the state of Baden-Württemberg, which includes Stuttgart, and the state of Bavaria. Several Munich prosecutors also took part in the raids. A spokesman for the Stuttgart prosecutors declined to say whether any of the buildings were private homes.

Raids on the offices of German carmakers over suspected emissions cheating have become almost commonplace, casting a cloud over the country’s most important industry.

Last month, officials searched BMW offices in Munich as part of an inquiry related to diesel emissions. The Munich prosecutors said they were investigating whether software in some diesel BMWs functioned like a so-called defeat device, the illegal technology at the heart of the Volkswagen scandal.

The term refers to software that detects when a car is undergoing an emissions test. Under such circumstances, the software increases pollution controls to make the car compliant. Under normal use, the car pollutes much more than allowed.

BMW said that the software had been installed by mistake.

Prosecutors also searched Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg last month. The company previously admitted that about 14,000 diesel Porsche Cayenne S.U.V.s sold in the United States had defeat devices. Porsche has sought to distance itself from the scandal, denying that its managers were aware of illegal software in the engines, which were supplied by Audi.