South Korea to decide soon on whether to suspend VW car sales

A VW sign is seen outside a Volkswagen dealership in London, Britain November 5, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File photo

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's environment ministry said on Monday it will decide later this month whether to revoke the certification of 32 vehicle models made by Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE after prosecutors accused the German carmaker of fabricating documents on emissions and noise-level tests.

If the ministry decides to revoke the certification of the affected models from Volkswagen and its Audi and Bentley units, they will be suspended from sale in the country, the ministry said in a statement.

Twenty-seven of the 32 models are currently offered in South Korea, the ministry said.

The South Korean unit of Volkswagen and Audi said it would decide on how to respond once the ministry makes a decision, including whether to take legal action.

Volkswagen alone saw South Korean sales slump 33 percent to 12,463 vehicles in the first half of this year from a year earlier, after the firm admitted in the United States to using software to falsify emissions tests on some diesel cars, spurring legal action in the United States, Germany, South Korea and elsewhere.

The ministry is due to hold a hearing on July 22, with a decision expected after that.

South Korean prosecutors last month arrested a local Volkswagen AG executive as part of the widening probe.

The environment ministry earlier this year ordered the suspension of sales of Nissan Motor’s Qashqai model, accusing the Japanese automaker of manipulating its emissions control system. Last month Nissan’s South Korean unit responded by filing a lawsuit against the ministry.

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Kim Coghill, Greg Mahlich