Toyota will pay the largest penalty ever imposed against an automaker.
“Today, we can say for certain that Toyota intentionally concealed information and misled the public about the safety issues behind these recalls,” U.S. attorney general Eric Holder said, calling Toyota’s conduct shameful. At least 52 people died in accidents linked to defective Toyota and Lexus vehicles affected by the issue.
The company and federal prosecutors said they have reached an agreement that will see the Japanese auto giant pay $1.2 billion in retribution. The fine will resolve charges related to how it handled unintended acceleration issues that spurred 10 million vehicles to be recalled.
“Rather than promptly disclosing and correcting safety issues about which they were aware, Toyota made misleading public statements to consumers and gave inaccurate facts to Members of Congress,” Holder said. ” And they concealed from federal regulators the extent of problems that some consumers encountered with sticking gas pedals and unsecured or incompatible floor mats that could cause these unintended acceleration episodes.”
Among the accidents attributed to the sticking gas pedals, an off-duty California highway patrol offer and members his family were killed in an accident caused by the flaw.
In the four years following the recalls, Toyota chief legal officer Christopher P. Reynolds said the company took steps to enhance its quality control and to respond faster to customer concerns.
“Entering this agreement, while difficult, is a major step toward putting this unfortunate chapter behind us,” he said.
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