VW executive remains in prison over emissions case

A Detroit judge has refused to set a bond and release a German Volkswagen executive who was arrested while on holiday in Florida last year.

Oliver Schmidt’s lawyers attempted to persuade the judge to set a bond, saying Schmidt would stay in the Detroit area under electronic monitoring and return for subsequent court hearings. Prosecutors, however, argued that he no ties to the U.S. and would be out of jurisdiction if he fled to his home country of Germany.  

U.S. district judge Sean Cox said it was a “very, very serious case.” His decision means Schmidt will remain behind bars while the case moves through the district court.

Schmidt’s trial is due to begin on January 16 next year. He is charged with 11 felony counts and could face up to 169 years in prison, according to Reuters.

Schmidt is one of seven VW employees charged in a long-running scheme to cheat emissions standards in the U.S. by installing illegal software on diesel vehicles. As Germany doesn’t extradite its citizens, the other five German executives facing charges may never see the courtroom.

In Detroit, Schmidt pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and fraud. Until the scandal broke, he was the manager of VW’s environment and engineering office. He is accused of lying to U.S regulars by saying technical issues, not illegal software, were behind the discrepancies between diesel emissions in road and lab tests.

Last week, VW pleaded guilty to carious charges and agreed to pay back $6.2 billion in civil and criminal penalties. Total expenses for the embattled auto company are expected to exceed $30 billion.

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