South Korea on Tuesday suspended sales of 32 Volkswagen Group models and fined the German automaker 17.8 billion won ($16.06 million), accusing it of forging documents on emissions or noise-level tests.
The move by Asia’s fourth-biggest economy builds pressure on Volkswagen (VLKAY) as it struggles to repair its reputation after it admitted in September to using illegal software to hide toxic emissions on about 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.
Europe’s largest automaker more than tripled sales in South Korea to 35,778 last year, before suffering a slump following the emissions scandal. South Korea is one of the major markets for its luxury brands like Audi and Bentley.
The environment ministry said it had revoked certification for 83,000 diesel and gasoline-powered Volkswagen, Audi and Bentley vehicles, bringing the total number of VW vehicles de-certified in South Korea to 209,000.
This amounted to 68% of the vehicles the German automaker had sold in the country since 2007, the ministry said.
In November, the government revoked certification of 126,000 VW vehicles, ordered their recall and fined Volkswagen 14.1 billion won, accusing the company of manipulating an emissions control system.
Prosecutors subsequently raided Volkswagen’s Seoul offices and arrested an executive.
Volkswagen voluntarily suspended sales of most of its models in South Korea from July 25, ahead of the government’s decision.