Volkswagen AG is suspending sales of its cars implicated in an emissions scandal in South Korea, in effect stopping all its marketing activities in the country.
In a recent letter to local dealers, Audi Volkswagen Korea Co., the Korean unit of the German auto maker, said it would stop delivering 79 models of 34 vehicle types starting Monday.
The suspension, which Volkswagen Korea expects to last for at least three months, would deal a heavy blow to the European auto maker. Many of its models are among the country’s top imported cars.
The move comes as Seoul’s environment ministry plans to revoke the certification of 79 vehicle models, including the Golf, Jetta, Tiguan, and Audi A3 and A6, made by Volkswagen and its premium Audi brand after prosecutors found that it had fabricated documents on emissions and noise-level tests.
The ministry said it would hold a public hearing on the German auto maker on Monday before it reaches a final decision later in the week.
A revocation order would lead to fines, a recall of about 79,000 vehicles and a sales ban on unsold cars, according to the ministry.
In a related move, prosecutors indicted an executive at Volkswagen’s Korean unit last week on charges of filing more than a hundred falsified emission documents and noise reports for cars sold in Korea.
Separately, Korea’s trade watchdog is also considering filing criminal charges against Volkswagen executives in Korea and levying fines on the car maker over advertising claims that its cars met emissions regulations.
The Fair Trade Commission judges that Volkswagen exaggerated advertising in which it stated that hundreds of thousands of its cars sold in Korea met the European Union’s strict Euro 5 emissions standards.
In November, the South Korean government ordered Volkswagen Korea to recall more than 125,000 diesel-powered cars sold in the country after it found the company installed emissions-cheating software in its vehicles. It also fined the company 14.1 billion won ($12.3 million).