BMW's Seoul HQ raided over engine fires

Police raided the main office of BMW Korea in Seoul to probe whether the company hid vehicle defects that led to dozens of engine fires in South Korea.
Police raided the main office of BMW Korea in Seoul to probe whether the company hid vehicle defects that led to dozens of engine fires in South Korea.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL • South Korean police raided German carmaker BMW's Seoul headquarters yesterday in connection with dozens of engine fires.

An official at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency's white-collar crime unit said officers were investigating whether the company covered up vehicle defects and had confiscated documents and other materials.

He declined to give further details, but Yonhap news agency said a team of 30 investigators was involved.

There was no immediate comment from BMW Korea.

"We will conduct a thorough investigation to reveal the truth," Yonhap quoted a police official as saying.

The move came after reports that more than 40 BMW vehicles have burst into flames so far this year, with some parking lots refusing to accept the cars because of fears they could catch fire.

 
 
 

South Korea this month temporarily banned from the streets BMW cars that had not yet passed safety checks and dozens of BMW owners filed complaints seeking a criminal investigation into the firm, its local unit and their nine top officials.

BMW Korea last month started recalling 106,000 vehicles with an exhaust gas recirculation module, which it says caused the recent fires.

The recall applies to 42 models, all with diesel engines.

The company is facing a series of legal actions over the issue in the country, and has said the problem was "not Korea-specific".

In South Korea, six out of 10 imported cars are from Germany, with BMW selling nearly 39,000 in the first six months of this year, according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2018, with the headline 'BMW's Seoul HQ raided over engine fires'. Print Edition | Subscribe