The Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office indicted one Audi Volkswagen Korea (AVK) director in charge of vehicle certification and charged without detention AVK CEO Johannes Thammer, former AVK CEO Trevor Hill, former Volkswagen Korea president Park Dong-hoon and five other AVK executive and staff members for the violation of the Clean Air Conservation Act and so on after an 11-month investigation. The Prosecutor's Office failed to reveal a connection between them and the Volkswagen headquarters in Germany until closing the case though.
According to the prosecution, they tampered with vehicle software and documents from 2010 to last year so that substandard vehicles can pass certification tests at the National Institute of Environmental Research of the Ministry of Environment of South Korea. This led to the import of tens of thousands of unauthorized vehicles divided into dozens of models such as Audi A3, Golf 1.4 TSI and Golf 1.6. Between July 2011 and August 2013, they manipulated the emission reduction devices of 15 Euro 5 diesel vehicle models for the same purpose and imported 46,317 cars not satisfying emission standards. In addition, they imported 102 Euro 6 diesel cars not complying with nitrogen oxide emission standards.
From August 2010 to January 2015, they submitted a total of 149 manipulated documents to obtain 28 certificates regarding exhaust gas and noise and 47 certificates regarding fuel economy. In March 2015, they tampered with the software of the Golf 1.4 TSI after it failed to pass the ministry’s nitrogen oxide emission test. From 2013 to last year, they imported 41,168 cars divided into 39 models that skipped exhaust emission and noise certification or were equipped with auto parts different than those on certification documents.
During the 11-month investigation, the prosecution asked for cooperation from Germany and the United States while working with the ministry to cancel the authorization of 80 Audi and Volkswagen models. The cancellation is almost as powerful as the suspension of business and the Volkswagen headquarters in Germany became more cooperative after the cancellation.