Industrial auto supplier Takata Corporation has been hit with a massive $1 Billion fine resulting from a probe into air bags. Along with the fine, three of the companys employees have been charged with wire fraud and conspiracy. Officials have charged them with covering up faults with the air bag inflators made by the company. Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima and Tsuneo Chikaraish have been charged in the indictment with wire fraud as well as conspiracy.
“Automotive suppliers who sell products that are supposed to protect consumers from injury or death must put safety ahead of profits,” U.S. Attorney Barbra McQuade was quoted saying in a prepared statement. “If they choose instead to engage in fraud, we will hold accountable the individuals and business entities who are responsible.”
Currently, the air bags which have Takata inflators are part of a giant National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recall which covers about a dozen auto manufacturers and millions of air bag systems. Current inflators are said to explode with excessive force which could lead to pieces of metal and other substances into the vehicle potentially injuring occupants. There have been seventeen fatalities associated with this recall and almost 200 injuries reportedly.
The $1 billion fine has been broken down into one payment of $25 million due to be paid to the United States and $975 million in restitution to auto manufacturers as well as those injured by the Takata devices. Payment of $25 millions is reported to be paid within the next month while the remainder of the fine being due upon sale of the company as reports indicate the company does not have sufficient funds currently to pay the massive fine.
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