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BMW owner testifies as police investigate engine fires

All Headlines 16:13 August 13, 2018

SEOUL, Aug. 13 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean BMW vehicle owner testified to police on Monday about a fire that broke out in his car's engine, one of a string of similar incidents that sparked a criminal probe into the local unit of the German carmaker.

Lee Kwang-duk, one of some 20 consumers who filed a complaint against BMW Korea and its officials on negligence and other charges last Wednesday, appeared at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in the afternoon.

"I will testify on the exact cause of the fire and (BMW's) attempts to cover up the defects," he told reporters. "I will also ask the police to secure emails between BMW Korea, its German headquarters and producers of exhaust gas recirculations (EGRs)."

The local unit of the second-most popular foreign carmaker in South Korea is under scrutiny after the engines of some 27 vehicles caught fire between January and July this year, prompting a government probe amid growing criticism from consumers who blame the company for a belated response.

Ha Jong-sun, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said he plans to lodge another joint litigation by 20-50 consumers and will submit more documents as evidence.

Lee claims the engine of his 2014 BMW 520d model caught fire last month, after a friend of his borrowed the vehicle from him and drove it for about an hour. The fire broke out as soon as his friend parked the car at a parking lot in Seongnam, a city just south of the capital.

Last Tuesday, BMW Korea apologized for the defects and for causing public concern in a press conference. It also vowed to cooperate with the probe by the transport ministry.

Violation of the Automobile Management Act in Korea is punishable by a prison term of up to 10 years or a fine of up to 100 million won (US$89,400).

This photo shows a BMW model on Aug. 13, 2018 lined up at a service center in Seoul to get a safety check. (Yonhap)

elly@yna.co.kr
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