Prosecutors have handed over all executives of Hyundai Motor in charge of vehicle quality to a trial for violating the Automobile Management Act, saying Hyundai and Kia delayed the recall even after they recognized engine defects.
On July 24, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office indicted Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors each without detention for violating the Automobile Management Act, along with the former vice chairman of Hyundai Motor's quality division, the former chief of the quality headquarters and the former chief of the quality strategy office. Chung Mong-koo, one of the accused, was suspended from indictment due to the difficulty in investigation stemming from his health problems.
Prosecutors concluded in August 2015 that they did not immediately recall cars manufactured by Hyundai and Kia Motors by concealing defects in engine connecting rod bearings, starting off during driving due to damage to connecting rod, and engine damage while they were in operation. The Automobile Management Act stipulated that when a manufacturer discovers a defect, it should disclose it without delay and take corrective measures.
In 2017, the YMCA Auto Safety Center, a civic group, filed a complaint against Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo and others on charges of fraud, saying, "It is presumed that Hyundai and Kia have been aware of possible defects in theta 2 engine through customer complaints and media reports since 2010.”
Prosecutors raided Hyundai and Kia in February and June to secure quality control-related data and summon officials, continuing their investigation.
Hyundai and Kia are also being investigated in the U.S. by the Southern District Prosecutors' Office in New York, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Connecticut State Prosecutors' Office in connection with the suitability of the recall process for vehicles equipped with the Theta 2 engine.
Prosecutors are also investigating the case in which the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport accused Hyundai and Kia of concealing five manufacturing defects, including airbags in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
In response, Hyundai and Kia said, “The Automobile Management Act applied by the prosecution is unconstitutional because the regulations on recall are not clear.”