By In-Soo Nam
SEOUL–South Korea’s government said it plans to ban sales of some cars made by Japan’s Nissan Motor Co. and two German auto makers– BMW AG and Porsche AG–after it found the companies manipulated documents to make their vehicles roadworthy.
The ministry said its investigation since August into more than a dozen foreign brands found that the three auto makers, while obtaining government approval for some of their cars, submitted documents that had already been used for similar models.
The government had widened its probe of certifications to more than a dozen foreign auto makers after banning the sale of almost all Volkswagen AG cars in Korea.
A ministry official said a total of 10 models, including the Infinity Q50 sedan and Qashqai sport utility vehicles from Nissan, BMW’s X5M SUV and Porsche’s Macan S diesel cars, were suspected of using fabricated documents to get certifications.
“We’ll give the companies until the middle of next month to clarify their positions. After that, the government plans to revoke the certifications, ban sales of their cars and ask prosecutors to further investigate the case,” Hong Dong-kon, a ministry director, said at a news conference.
The ministry plans to levy a combined 6.5 billion won ($5.6 million) in fines on the three auto makers, he said. Officials at Nissan, BMW and Porsche weren’t immediately available for comment.
Amid a flurry of legal actions against Volkswagen globally following the revelation last year that the auto maker falsified U.S. emissions tests on some diesel-powered cars, Seoul’s environment ministry in August banned the sale of almost all Volkswagen cars in Korea. It handed down heavy fines, one of the severest punishments for the German auto maker.
South Korea accused Volkswagen of falsifying emissions documents and manipulating noise reports so vehicles would be certified roadworthy, raided company offices and indicted a senior executive on charges of submitting manipulated emissions data–making it the first country to indict a VW executive in connection with the scandal.
Write to In-Soo Nam at In-Soo.Nam@wsj.com