South Korea police raid BMW office over car fires

There have been dozens of engines fires in BMWs in South Korea. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)
Updated 30 August 2018

South Korea police raid BMW office over car fires

  • South Korean police are investigating whether the company covered up vehicle defects
  • BMW Korea last month started recalling 106,000 vehicles with an exhaust gas recirculation module

SEOUL: South Korean police raided German carmaker BMW’s Seoul headquarters Thursday in connection with dozens of engine fires.
An official at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s white collar crime unit said officers were investigating whether the company covered up vehicle defects and had confiscated documents and other materials.
He declined to give further details but Yonhap news agency said a team of 30 investigators were involved. There was no immediate comment from BMW Korea.
“We will conduct a thorough investigation to reveal the truth,” Yonhap quoted a police official as saying.
The move came after reports more than 40 BMW vehicles have burst into flames so far this year, with some parking lots refusing to accept the cars because of fears they could catch fire.
South Korea this month temporarily banned from the streets BMW cars that had not yet passed safety checks and dozens of BMW owners filed complaints seeking a criminal investigation into the firm, its local unit and their nine top officials.
BMW Korea last month started recalling 106,000 vehicles with an exhaust gas recirculation module, which it says caused the recent fires. The recall applies to 42 models, all with diesel engines.
The company is facing a series of legal actions over the issue in the country, and has said the problem was “not Korea specific.”
In South Korea, six out of 10 imported cars are from Germany, with BMW selling nearly 39,000 in the first six months of this year, according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.


Analysts urge Canada to focus on boosting the economy

Updated 06 July 2020

Analysts urge Canada to focus on boosting the economy

  • Canada lost one of its coveted triple-A ratings in June when Fitch downgraded it for the first time

TORONTO: Canada should focus on boosting economic growth after getting pummeled by the COVID-19 crisis, analysts say, even as concerns about the sustainability of its debt are growing, with Fitch downgrading the nation’s rating just over a week ago.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau will deliver a “fiscal snapshot” on Wednesday that will outline the current balance sheet and may give an idea of the money the government is setting aside for the future.

As the economy recovers, some fiscal support measures, which are expected to boost the budget deficit sharply, could be wound down and replaced by incentives meant to get people back to work and measures to boost economic growth, economists said.

“The only solution to these large deficits is growth, so we need a transition to a pro-growth agenda,” said Craig Wright, chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada. The IMF expects Canada’s economy to contract by 8.4 percent this year. Ottawa is already rolling out more than C$150 billion in direct economic aid, including payments to workers impacted by COVID-19.

Further stimulus measures could include a green growth strategy, as well as spending on infrastructure, including smart infrastructure, economists said. Smart infrastructure makes use of digital technology.

“We have to make sure that government spending is calibrated to the economy of the future rather than the economy of the past,” Wright said.

Canada lost one of its coveted triple-A ratings in June when Fitch downgraded it for the first time, citing the billions of dollars in emergency aid Ottawa has spent to help bridge the downturn caused by COVID-19 shutdowns.

Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and DBRS still give Canadian debt the highest rating. At DBRS, Michael Heydt, the lead sovereign analyst on Canada, says his concern is about potential structural damage to the economy if the slowdown lingers too long.

Fiscal policymakers “need to be confident that there is a recovery underway before they start talking about (debt) consolidation,” Heydt said.

Fitch expects Canada’s total government debt will rise to 115.1 percent of GDP in 2020 from 88.3 percent in 2019.

Royce Mendes, a senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said the economy still needs more support.

“Turning too quickly toward austerity would be a clear mistake,” he said.