It has been confirmed that the prosecution called in the then vice president, who was in charge of Hyundai Motor's quality headquarters, for questioning over the alleged cover-up of defects in Hyundai-Kia's engine and airbags.
The prosecution appears to be expanding its probe to the top management after detecting circumstantial evidence that systematic cover-up allegations were made at the group level. It expanded the investigation to executive-level officials who were involved in decision-making on the vehicle defect issue.
According to legal circles on May 5, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office summoned Hyundai Kefico CEO Bang Chang-seop twice on April 26 and 29.
Bang served as the head of Hyundai Motor's quality headquarters for three years from 2015 and was responsible for the start of production of new cars and the decision to recall vehicles in case of defects.
At the end of last year, he moved to CEO of Hyundai Kefico, an affiliate of Hyundai Motor that produces parts for automobile engines and transmissions.
At the core of the alleged cover-up of engine defects by Hyundai and Kia Motors is that the company did not take proper follow-up measures, such as recalls, while hiding them until authorities investigated the defects.
Hyundai recalled its vehicles in 2015 in the U.S. due to a faulty Theta 2 engine, but did not take any action in Korea, saying there was no problem with domestic vehicles equipped with the same engine.
However, suspicions of covering up the defects emerged as a result of the phenomenon of starting off in South Korean vehicles as well.
Meanwhile, Hyundai reportedly claims that it was unaware that the Theta2 engine problem could lead to fatal defects, such as a car fire.