June 30, 2018 / 10:34 PM / 3 months ago

Volkswagen CEO says arrest of Audi's Stadler hard to comprehend - Bild am Sonntag

BERLIN (Reuters) - The CEO of Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), Herbert Diess, told a German newspaper the arrest of Audi head Rupert Stadler was a shock and hard to comprehend.

Herbert Diess, Volkswagen's new CEO, attends the Volkswagen Group's annual general meeting in Berlin, Germany, May 3, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

VW has suspended Stadler, head of VW’s most profitable brand, after German authorities arrested him as part of an emissions probe.

FILE PHOTO: Rupert Stadler, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi, attends the "AI for Good" Global Summit at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva, Switzerland June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

“It was a massive shock for me. The arrest of a CEO of a major car brand: that’s never happened before,” Diess told Germany newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

“The arrest is hard to comprehend. I knew Rupert Stadler as a problem solver,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. Diess said that for him, Diess was innocent until proven guilty.

Stadler, who has not made any public comment, has not been charged and prosecutors are set to continue questioning him next week.

Asked whether he could imagine Stadler returning, Diess said it depended on what facts emerge: “Should the accusations of the state prosecutors prove to be true, then it’s a clear decision.”

He said that he did not believe Audi would suffer immediately from the departure of its CEO.

“But if it lasts too long, then it does become a problem. However, I am convinced that we will get through this.”

Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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