Emblems of the Volkswagen Golf VII in a plant in Wolfsburg, Germany Reuters

A civil lawsuit has been filed in Sao Paulo against German carmaker Volkswagen on Tuesday (22 September) accusing the company of allowing the torture and detention of employees who were opposed to Brazil's former military dictatorship.

The complaint claims that 12 former employees were arrested and tortured in the Volkswagen factory in Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo. It also alleges that dozens of people at the factory were placed on a blacklist.

"They took me in handcuffs to the personnel department and there they started to torture me," one of the former employee and communist activist, Lucio Bellentani told AFP.

Sebastiao Neto, one of the officials of the Workers' Forum for Truth, Justice and Activism told AFP: "Volkswagen was not the only company involved, but it had a management role in Sao Paulo and even coordinated other" companies.

"Volkswagen employees were victims of torture and illegal detention, and others were laid off and placed on blacklists," said Rosa Cardoso, a lawyer representing some of the alleged victims.

Cardoso is also one of the lawyers coordinating the work of the National Truth Commision which was set up by Brazil President Dilma Rousseff to look into the crimes of the military dictatorship. The commission was set up in 2012.

Volkswagen mired in global emissions scandal

The world's top selling car-maker is already embroiled in a major global scandal that it had put in software in 11 million cars worldwide to evade emission controls.

Although the company has said it has set aside €6.5bn (£4.7bn) to cover the fallout and "win back the trust" of companies, but news reports say the fines faced by the company in the US alone could total $18bn (£11.73bn, €16.17bn) or more.

The US Environmental Protection Agency had said that the company faces potential fines of $37,500 per vehicle and that anyone found personally responsible is subject to $3,750 per violation.

Its woes do not end here. Tenesse which is channelling nearly $900m in state and local incentives towards the carmaker's only US plant in Chattanooga, plans to hold hearings on whether the emissions scandal will affect the incentives offered.

Republican state Senator Bo Watson has called for a Senate Finance Committee hearing asking for a review of the incentives offered to VW.

The BBC said a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice is also on the cards. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he will collaborate with other states to enforce consumer and environmental policies.

"No company should be allowed to evade our environmental laws or promise consumers a fake bill of goods," Schneiderman said n a statement.

South Korea launches checks on VW and Audi diesel cars

Bloomberg reports that South Korea has become the first Asian country to say it will check whether VW has complied with its pollution standards. Park Pan Kyu, deputy director of the Ministry of Environment, told the news agency that the authorities will test emissions on diesel models of VW's Jetta, Golf and Audi AG's A3 sedan next month.

The probe will involve 4,000 to 5,000 vehicles imported to Korea since 2014, Park said.