South Korea to Ban Some Volkswagen Models Amid Emissions Probe

  • Environment ministry to hold public hearing on July 22
  • Prosecutors arrested VW Korea director on environment charges

South Korea plans to revoke the certification of almost half of the models sold by Volkswagen and Audi in the country as an investigation into the automaker’s emissions tests widens.

The Ministry of Environment said it will hold a public hearing on the German automaker on July 22, after receiving a request from prosecutors to ban the sale of 18 diesel and 14 gasoline models by the group’s Volkswagen, Audi and Bentley brands.

The announcement comes after Seoul prosecutors arrested a director at Volkswagen Korea last month on charges of violating local environment laws and fabrication of documents. Prosecutors raided the office of Volkswagen’s Korea unit in May on suspicion the company forged fuel-efficiency test documents. Two agencies that handle fuel efficiency certification were also searched.

Volkswagen’s South Korean unit said it will decide on what measures to take after it receives an official notification from the ministry. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment further citing the ongoing investigation. About 79,000 cars, including the Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, Tiguan, Audi A3, A6 and Bentley Continental, will have their certification withdrawn, according to the ministry.

Sales of Volkswagen and Audi cars plunged by 33 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in the first six months of this year, according to data from the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association.

In Germany, prosecutors widened a probe of Volkswagen’s emissions cheating, potentially paving the way for hundreds of millions of euros in penalties on top of the $15.3 billion U.S. settlement.

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