General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) engaged the services of Anton Valukas, chairman of the law firm Jenner & Block LLP, to lead its internal investigation regarding the ignition-switch failure connected to at least 13 deaths, which led to the recall of 1.6 million vehicles, according to report from Bloomberg. Valukas served as investigator of the collapse of the Lehman Brothers Holdings.
According to the automaker, Valukas together with Michael Millikin, general counsel of General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), will handle the investigation. Lawyers from King & Spalding are also part of the investigating team.
General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) is conducting an internal investigation in response to the 27-page order from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to outline the steps the automaker is carrying out to resolve engineering concerns and consumer complaints on the issue dating back in 2004. The automaker has until April 3 to answer specific questions in the order that was issued on March 4.
General Motors potential fine
According to Bloomberg, the NHTSA could impose as much as a $35 million penalty against General Motors if it finds out that the automaker didn’t implement a recall when it was aware that the cars were defective. The NHTSA could also file criminal charges against the automaker.
General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) recently stated that heavy key rings or jarring could cause ignition switches to slip out of position, cutting off power, and deactivating air bags on some Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn vehicles. The automaker found that the defect was connected to at least 23 crashes, including crashes that resulted in 13 deaths.
Much work ahead
Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), emphasized in her note to employees last week that the automaker “acted without hesitation” to deal with the recall over the past few weeks, but that they have much work ahead.
General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) already recalled 778,562 Cobalts and G5s, as well as an additional 800,000 Saturn Ions (2003 to 2007 models), Chevrolet HHRs (2006 to 2007 models), Pontiac Solstices (2006 to 2007 models) and Saturn Skys (2006 to 2007 models). The automaker also said that the 2005 to 2006 Pontiac Pursuit and 2007 Opel GT sold in Canada and Europe respectively were included in the recall.
In a separate report, Greg Martin, spokesperson for General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) denied reports that the automaker ignored customer complaints. According to him, the company was monitoring complaints, but he did not provide further details regarding the investigation into failures related to the ignition switches.