US fines Hyundai $47 million for importing, selling dirty diesel engines

South Korean automaker Hyundai will pay a $ 47 million fine for illegally importing and selling dirty diesel engines in violation of American environmental rules, US authorities announced Thursday.

Between 2012 and 2015, the company imported nearly 2,300 diesel-powered heavy construction vehicles with engines that did not meet US emissions standards, the US Justice Department said in a statement.

"Hyundai put profits above the public's health and the requirements of the law," Jeffrey Bossert Clark, head of the department's environment and natural resources division, said in a statement.

"We will not tolerate such schemes that skirt the Clean Air Act, designed by Congress to improve air quality."

The case began with a whistleblower tip submitted in 2015 to the US Environmental Protection Agency, which launched criminal and civil proceedings.

A US court earlier imposed a $ 2 million fine on the company for the clean air violations.

US officials say the Hyundai diesel engines were not certified to meet emissions standards for particulate matter and nitrogen oxide, both of which contribute to disease and premature death.