Toyota to pay $1.2B to settle U.S. criminal probe of defects in autos' acceleration
WASHINGTON — Toyota agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle an investigation by the U.S. government, admitting that it hid information about defects that caused Toyota and Lexus vehicles to accelerate unexpectedly and resulted in injuries and deaths.
Attorney General Eric Holder said on Wednesday that the penalty is the largest of its kind imposed on an auto company. The four-year criminal investigation focused on whether Toyota promptly reported the problems related to unintended acceleration.
The company admitted to misleading consumers and regulators by assuring them that it had adequately addressed an acceleration problem stemming from ill-fitting floor mats — which attracted widespread publicity in 2009 as a result of a car crash in San Diego that killed a family of four — through a limited safety recall of certain models.
Toyota knew at the time that it had not recalled other models susceptible to the same problem and took steps to conceal from regulators a separate acceleration problem related to a faulty pedal, according to the Justice Department.
“In other words, Toyota confronted a public safety emergency as it if were a simple public relations problem,” Holder said at a news conference.
According to a statement of facts filed in the case, an exasperated Toyota employee was said to have remarked at one point, “Idiots! Someone will go to jail if lies are repeatedly told. I can't support this.”
Toyota said in a statement that in the four years since the recalls it had “made fundamental changes to become a more responsive and customer-focused organization, and we are committed to continued improvements.”
The company's finances have recovered from the recalls, as well as the recession and the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Its once-sterling reputation for quality and reliability has been tarnished, and its market share is still below where it was in 2009.
Prosecutors filed a criminal charge Wednesday alleging the company defrauded consumers by issuing misleading statements. They said they'll move to dismiss the charge in three years if Toyota complies with the terms of the settlement. An independent monitor will review policies, practices and procedures at the company.
No Toyota executives were charged under the deal. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, whose office brought the case, said he expects the agreement to be a “final resolution.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- EDMC reaches debt-restructuring deal with creditors
- 2 top technology officers leave UPMC
- Time Warner outage cuts Internet access for 11M subscribers
- Economic indicator rises 0.9% in July
- S&P 500 holds steady at 2,000 level
- DQE Communication inks data deal with Iron Mountain
- Banks Gas Services finds success in jobs outside shale industry
- PPG research helps vehicle, plane makers cut pounds from products
- Hewlett-Packard recalls power cords
- Highmark denies premiums in federal insurance marketplaces affected by level of competition
- UPMC to help China build private medical center to boost public care there