The confusion that took center stage in the local vehicle market over the agency of popular Korean vehicle brand, Hyundai, has now gone before courts.
The local vehicle market was buzzing last month over reports that Hyundai Motor Company in Korea was trying to appoint a new agent for the Sri Lanka market.
The controversy resulted in allegations of fake documents with forged signatures being submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles by a leading local conglomerate trying to take hold of the Hyundai agency in Sri Lanka, namely Abans Auto (Pvt) Limited, and the matter has now been taken before courts.
A complaint was first lodged by Hyundai Lanka (Pvt) Limited with the Colombo Fraud Investigations Bureau of the Police on November 22nd on the alleged submission of fake documents with forged signatures to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The complaint was lodged by Sujith Periris, Director Strategic Business Development of Hyundai Lanka Private Limited on behalf of the company’s Managing Director, H.A. Reuter and Director Viola Karunaratne.
The Fraud Bureau had then filed a B report before the Magistrate’s Court in Colombo and case no. 22689/08/19 is now ongoing on the complaint.
Accordingly, Court No. 8 of the Colombo Magistrate’s Court on November 27th has directed the investigators of the Fraud Bureau to record the necessary statements from the Department of Motor Vehicles and to further probe the matter.
The court has further directed the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles to submit the originals of the letters sent via e-mail to him by Abans Auto Private Limited on October 7th and October 15th this year while also directing the Commissioner or any other responsible official on his behalf to make a statement to the investigative officers regarding the matter being probed.
The issue came to public attention when the popular brand’s models started to appear in shopping malls with so-called exciting prices.
Unknown to the wider Hyundai vehicle owners, Hyundai Motors regional office based in Malaysia, had reportedly forged links with a local conglomerate and had appointed them as an agent.
Accordingly, Abans Auto has written to the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles informing of their new status as agent of Hyundai Motors. This was during the currency of the agent of nearly 20 years, Hyundai Lanka (Pvt) Limited.
The Department has also been in receipt of yet another letter which is purported to be from Hyundai Motors stating that Hyundai Lanka was not the agent and therefore should not be permitted to directly register vehicles, which is a system available to registered agents.
Hyundai Lanka who has enjoyed their agency status in the country for nearly 20 years had immediately contacted the Department, as they believed that the two letters received by the Commissioner of the Department, even though it was purported to be from the same person, had allegedly carried two distinctly different signatures.
The Department had then written to Hyundai Motors seeking clarification and was sent via email the body of the letter this time without a verifiable signature.
However, on 7th November it was revealed that the Korean named in the letters has made a personal visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles and signed the letters in front of the Registrar.
Prior to the visit to the Department, the Department was of the view that of the letters received by the Registrar, at least one was a forgery.
Nevertheless, while the Fraud Bureau investigators and the Colombo Magistrate’s Court is inquiring into the deeper business issues including the alleged fake letters with forged signatures, the real question in the whole drama is on the existing warranty honouring, service issues etc that appear to have been left in abeyance.