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Seoul court fines BMW $12.9 million over falsified emissions documents

A Seoul court on Thursday slapped BMW Korea with a 14.5 billion-won ($12.9 million) fine and sentenced six workers to prison for violating the customs law and Clean Air Conservation Act.

The German luxury carmaker was indicted in March last year for importing some 29,000 vehicles with falsified emissions documents since 2011. Prosecutors demanded a 30 billion-won fine for BMW Korea and up to 1 1/2 years in prison for six employees in November.

“The government has mandated a strict authorization process for vehicle sales because emissions have a big impact on the environment. BMW has thwarted the government’s efforts to improve air quality and lost public trust,” the Seoul Central District Court said.

It added that the company had been negligent in staff management while focusing on maximizing profits. 


Of the six incumbent and former BMW Korea officials who have been sentenced up to 10 months in prison, three were arrested shortly after the ruling.

In response to the ruling, a BMW Korea spokesperson said, “We plan to review all legal measures possible.”

The issue first came to light in November 2017, after the Ministry of Environment levied a 60.8 billion-won fine on the German carmaker -- the highest fine slapped on a single carmaker -- for underrating emissions results for 81,483 units across 28 models.

By Kim Bo-gyung (