U.S. judge orders Volkswagen executive held until trial in emissions case

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A federal judge in Detroit on Thursday ordered that a Volkswagen AG executive charged in the automaker's diesel emissions scandal be detained until his trial set for next year, agreeing with prosecutors that the German national represented a flight risk. Oliver Schmidt, who was chief of Volkswagen's (VOWG_p. DE) environmental and engineering center in Michigan, has been held since January when he was arrested in Miami trying to return to Germany. Schmidt is one of seven current and former executives charged in the U.S. emissions probe..

"The allegations of fraud and conspiracy in this case are very, very serious," said Judge Sean Cox of the U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan. "There is a serious risk that Mr. Schmidt will not appear in this case." The ruling came despite pleas from family and friends, including Schmidt's parents, who offered a combined $1.6 million in assets such as property and cash to pay his bail.

Defense attorney David DuMouchel said Schmidt had been open about his travel plans to the United States prior to his arrest, despite knowing he could be charged.

But an assistant U.S. attorney, John Neal, told the court that Schmidt has few ties to the United States and would face stiffer penalties if tried here instead of in Germany.