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(LEAD) Prosecutors raid Volkswagen Korea over emissions scandal

All Headlines 17:35 March 18, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details throughout; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, March 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean prosecutors raided Volkswagen AG's vehicle inspection center Friday as authorities crack down on the German automaker's tardiness in recalling cars that faked emission tests, officials said.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office said computer hard drives and documents on Volkswagen vehicles' emissions results have been confiscated from its pre-delivery inspection (PDI) center in Pyeongtaek, about 70 kilometers south of Seoul.

Prosecutors said they have also secured four types of Volkswagen and Audi vehicles to be sent to the National Institute of Environmental Research for thorough testing.

PDI is the last process to check the quality of vehicles before they are delivered to local customers.

Prosecutors said they are investigating whether the carmaker manipulated devices to fake emission test results in order to pass South Korean emissions standards.

Last month, prosecutors also raided the headquarters of Volkswagen's local unit in southern Seoul.

"The raid was carried out because there was a need to secure more data and conduct direct inspection on cars," a prosecutor said.

Prosecutors said they are planning to summon related officials from the carmaker after analyzing the confiscated articles. Board members at the carmaker's headquarters in Germany are also included on the list that may be questioned.

Authorities have already banned some Volkswagen executives, including Johannes Thammer, head of Audi Volkswagen Korea, from leaving the country.

The prosecutors' latest raid came a few weeks after Volkswagen submitted its plan to start a recall on about 125,000 vehicles equipped with so-called defeat devices starting late April.

In January, the environment ministry brought a case against Volkswagen Korea's head to prosecutors over failing to provide key information regarding its recall plan for the cars in a prompt manner.

Under South Korean law, those who do not abide by the recall order can be jailed for up to five years or fined a maximum of 30 million won (US$24,000).

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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