Dec. 24 (UPI) -- German automaker BMW was fined nearly $10 million Monday by South Korea for its belated recall after 40 customers' vehicles caught fire this year.
Investigators from South Korea's transport ministry found defects during the summer that could cause coolant to leak and set engines on fire whuile parked.
BMW recalled about 100,000 vehicles in August after the country's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport ordered it to replace exhaust gas recirculation systems in all models sold in South Korea. The ministry said that BMW was aware in 2015 of faulty parts in the EGR systems. It added that the car fires were caused by coolant leaks and defective valves, and referred the case to prosecutors for criminal investigation.
BMW has said it only learned of the defects in July 2018, after the fires. Its sales in South Korea have declined 9.9 percent, from 52,817 vehicles in 2017 to 47,569 in the first 11 months of 2018, because of the fires and the publicity surrounding them.
The defect also prompted a voluntary recall by BMW of 323,700 vehicles in Europe, and caused the company to lower its global profit targets.