— A South Korean Volkswagen executive who was arrested over VW's emissions scandal has now been indicted on charges of violating emissions laws and sending false data to authorities.
Unlike in the U.S. where criminal probes typically end by an automaker coughing up money, South Korea says executives at Volkswagen could face prison sentences due to years of manipulating emissions.
About 11 million vehicles worldwide are affected by software called "defeat devices" used to alter emissions levels. For at least seven years those "clean diesel" cars have polluted the world while Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche advertised the environmental benefits of the vehicles.
The exec, identified as only "Yoon," was arrested after prosecutors raided VW's offices looking for evidence of manipulating data to pass emission and noise tests necessary to import the vehicles.
Mr. Yoon is accused of submitting over 100 incorrect noise and emissions reports for South Korean VW and Audi cars going back to 2010. Prosecutors allege all the documents were falsified from August 2010 to February 2015 to make sure the cars would be imported and sold without anyone knowing of the scheme.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office also believes Yoon imported more than 460 vehicles that weren't certified in 2014, including the Audi A3 and A6 and the Volkswagen Golf, Jetta and Tiguan.
The 52-year-old Yoon is the first executive indicted in what could be just the beginning of management being hauled in, according to statements from South Korean prosecutors.
32 Audi, Bentley and VW Models to be Banned
South Korea’s Ministry of Environment says it plans on banning the sale of 32 Audi, Bentley and Volkswagen models by revoking their certifications. The final decision will be made by the end of July but everything is a go for now as prosecutors work with the Ministry in selecting which models will be included.
South Korean officials say 18 models are diesel and 14 gasoline, and once certification is pulled a complete sales ban will be in effect and VW will need to recall the vehicles for repairs.
Plans are to revoke certification on 22 models that had documents manipulated concerning exhaust gas, eight models that had noise level documents falsified and two models with documents forged about both exhaust gas and noise levels.
The automaker will then need to go through the certification process again for each model and pay a maximum of $900,000 in fines and additional penalties will be accessed for every vehicle already sold. These actions will be in addition to the 125,000 VW vehicles that had their certification yanked in 2015.
The Ministry of Environment will hold a public hearing about the sales ban on July 22, 2016.