South Korea has been at the forefront of fining Volkswagen for its manipulation of diesel engines which emit more nitrogen oxide gases on the road than during lab tests. On Friday it went after the German carmaker on a separate charge, jailing a VW manager for forging documents.
A VW manager in South Korea was sentenced to one and a half years in prison for forging emissions and noise levels of imported cars, news agency Reuters reported Friday, citing a Seoul court ruling.
“With this criminal act, which has caused considerable social and economic damage, Volkswagen has undermined its own trustworthiness as a global brand,” the court said.
The court said the manager forged emissions and sound levels in order to comply with local regulations and import VW cars into the country. While unrelated to the Dieselgate scandal, the conviction is yet another hit to the reputation of Volkswagen, which has been under fire around the world since it admitted in September 2015 to manipulating the emissions levels of 11 million cars around the world.
South Korea has already fined Volkswagen 55.1 billion won, or $46.2 million, for emissions cheating and false advertising related to Dieselgate.
The Asian country is also looking into charges related to Dieselgate itself. Johannes Thammer, South Korea’s head of Audi and Volkswagen, is also the subject of a criminal investigation in the country, Reuters reported. The company’s local businesses said they have cooperated with authorities and were confident about future proceedings.
So far, nobody has been tried and convicted of criminal wrongdoing for VW’s Dieselgate scandal. In the United Sates, a VW engineer has admitted wrongdoing in the diesel emissions scandal. He could face up to five years in jail, but a ruling is still pending, Reuters reported.
Volkswagen, which has already agreed to Dieselgate settlements of up to $17.5 billion in the United States. Prosecutors in Germany are still investigating who was responsible for the cheating, which has thrown Europe’s largest carmaker into its worst crisis since it was founded in 1937.
VW has long insisted that the manipulation was the work of a series of mid-level managers and engineers, without the knowledge of then-CEO Martin Winterkorn, who resigned days after the scandal broke in September 2015, nor then-finance chief Hans-Dieter Pötsch or any other top VW managers in charge at the time.
Gilbert Kreijger is an editor with Handelsblatt Global, covering companies and markets. To contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org