General Motors has agreed to pay a record $35 million penalty for delays in reporting flaws in ignition switches that have led to at least 13 deaths, the Department of Transportation announced Friday.
Apart from the maximum civil penalty, the automaker has agreed to “unprecedented oversight” as a result of an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into the recall of 2.5 million vehicles.
The NHTSA administration said the fine is the “single highest civil penalty amount ever paid as a result of a NHTSA investigation of violations stemming from a recall.”
“What we will never accept is a person or a company that knows danger exists and says nothing,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said at a press conference. “Literally, silence can kill.”
As part of the deal, the government “ordered GM to make significant and wide-ranging internal changes to its review of safety-related issues in the United States, and to improve its ability to take into account the possible consequences of potential safety-related defects.”
As part of the deal with the government, GM has agreed to give NHTSA complete access to the results of the company’s own internal investigation. Testifying before a Senate hearing, GM chief executive Mary Barra denied charges of a “culture of cover-up” at GM, and said the company would not take action until its internal review was complete.
In a statement responding to the DOT deal, GM said it was working with NHTSA and has begun reviewing its policies “to avoid future recalls of this nature.”
GM confirmed in late April that it is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Justice Department and U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, in connection with the ignition switch recall.
A press release from GM on Friday said that the company will have enough replacement parts by October to fix the “majority” of the vehicles recalled for flawed ignition switches and ignition cylinders.
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