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SEOUL: South Korea's antitrust regulator said on Monday it decided to fine German carmaker Mercedes-Benz and its Korean unit 20.2 billion won ($16.9 million) for false advertising tied to gas emissions of its diesel passenger vehicles.

The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said Mercedes had tampered with pollution mitigation devices by installing illegal software in its vehicles, making them perform at lower levels in ordinary driving conditions than during certification tests.

A total of 15 Mercedes models had such software installed, it said.

"It is meaningful to impose sanctions against the country's No.1 imported car sales operator for obstructing consumers' rational purchase choices with false and deceptive advertisements about its emission reduction performance even after the Dieselgate scandal," the KFTC said in a statement.

Mercedes-Benz's hands-free drive system clears German authority

The German carmaker also falsely advertised that their vehicles' emissions remained at a minimum level and met the Euro 6 emission standards between August 2013 and December 2016, according to the KFTC.

Mercedes was not immediately available for comment outside business hours when contacted by Reuters.

Last year, the KFTC imposed a fine or ordered corrective actions for Audi-Volkswagen Korea, Nissan Motor Corp, Stellantis Korea and Porsche AG for similar emissions rigging incidents.

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