[THE INVESTOR] A Seoul court on Jan. 10 ordered the local unit of BMW to pay a fine of 14.5 billion won (US$12.90 million) for falsifying documents on gas emissions required by the Korean government for domestic sales.
Finding the automaker guilty of violating the customs law, the Seoul Central District Court also sentenced six incumbent and former BMW Korea officials to 8-10 months in prison for their involvement in the case.
Three of the officials were immediately arrested following the court ruling.
The defendants were charged with forging certain specifications of types of vehicle parts since 2011 to make it look as though they met local standards. The foreign carmaker sold 29,000 units in the local market based on this certification.
The court ruled that their actions not only undermined the government’s ongoing efforts to improve the country’s worsening air quality but also caused BMW Korea to lose public trust by misleading consumers.
The Ministry of Environment revealed in its own inquiry in 2017 that the German carmaker had breached regulations. The ministry imposed separate fines on the firm and filed a complaint with the prosecution seeking an investigation.
The local units of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz were also investigated over similar allegations, and three Porsche Korea officials are standing trial.
By Song Seung-hyun and newswires (firstname.lastname@example.org)