BMW faces criminal investigation in South Korea over engine fires

BMW's Korea branch apologised in a statement released after the announcement and said it will cooperate with ongoing investigations.
BMW's Korea branch apologised in a statement released after the announcement and said it will cooperate with ongoing investigations.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (BLOOMBERG) - BMW AG is facing a criminal probe in South Korea after investigators concluded the company concealed fire hazards and delayed recalls.

South Korea's transport ministry plans to ask prosecutors to investigate the German carmaker, the ministry said in a statement on Monday (Dec 24). South Korea also fined BMW 11.2 billion won (S$13.6 million) for belatedly recalling 22,670 vehicles. The team that's been investigating the company since August found defects that could cause coolant to leak and set the engine on fire.

The move threatens to prolong the Munich-based company's woes in a country where there have been nearly 40 cases of BMW fires reported this year. The carmaker, which has recalled 1.6 million vehicles worldwide over the issue, has seen its sales in South Korea fall about 10 per cent during the first 11 months of the year as videos went viral of the luxury cars being engulfed in flames.

BMW's Korea branch apologised in a statement released after the announcement and said it will cooperate with ongoing investigations.