Toyota Motor Corporation and the U. S. Justice Department are on the verge of a $1 billion settlement to curtail a criminal probe regarding disclosure of safety issues. According to sources, the deal could be announced as early as Wednesday and would conclude a four-year investigation into the auto maker.
The deal is expected to include a deferred prosecution clause, which would protect Toyota from criminal charges provided it meets conditions imposed by the court, and would appoint an overseer to monitor Toyota’s adherence to conditions of the agreement.
The investigation stemmed from allegations of unintended acceleration in Toyota’s cars in the late 2000s. The Justice Department found evidence of Toyota’s wrongdoing and misleading statements about safety problems that were disclosed via its own internal audits. Moreover, the auto maker made misleading statements to the government and to the public about those safety issues.
The auto maker has been fined four times for a total of $66.2 million by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for failing to report safety defects to the government. Three of those fines were related to issues concerning unwanted acceleration.
The settlement is still tentative and could potentially fall apart.
By Leigh Haugh