The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office summoned an executive director of Hyundai WIA, identified only by his surname Lee, for questioning on March 27. Lee, who served as chief of Hyundai Motor's quality strategy office until 2016, is known to be the primary manager of the alleged cover-up of engine defects.
Prosecutors raided the quality control department of Hyundai and Kia on Feb. 20 and began a forced investigation.
Prosecutors are looking into both the case of civic group YMCA's complaint with the prosecution in April 2017 regarding defects in the Theta 2 engine, which were built on Hyundai and Kia cars, and the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs' accusation of Hyundai Motor in October 2016 of covering a possible defect in the operation of its airbags.
In May 2017, the ministry decided to call about 240,000 vehicles related to Hyundai and Kia vehicles, saying that the faulty Theta 2 engine was confirmed.
According to the YMCA, Hyundai and Kia knew of such phenomena as noise, vibration, starting off and fire while driving a Theta 2-engine-equipped vehicles produced through August 2013, but have actively denied the defects without any countermeasures for an eight-year period when they are fully capable of investigating and taking action.
The 2016 complaint by the ministry is related to Hyundai Motor's alleged violation of the Automobile Management Act, which did not take legally-set measures, including notification of the owner of the car, even though the passenger airbag was found to be inoperative in the Santa Fe vehicle.
The investigation by local prosecutors, which began in earnest for the first time in three years and two years, respectively, since the complaint, is drawing attention as it comes at a time when U.S. law enforcement authorities are expanding their investigation into the recall of Hyundai and Kia vehicles.