The U.S. Department of Justice and Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE:TM) (TYO:7203) issued a joint statement today announcing that Toyota will pay a $1.2 billion settlement to close a criminal probe of its actions before and during the recalls involving unintended acceleration in its vehicles. The probe revolved around Toyota’s knowledge of the acceleration problem before issuing the recall. The terms of the settlement also require an independent monitor to review how Toyota handles safety communications, its internal processes for accident reports and its processes for preparing technical bulletins.
The $1.2 billion settlement with Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE:TM) (TYO:7203) is the largest criminal penalty ever levied against a car manufacturer. The U.S. Attorney’s office, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation.
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Statements from DoJ and Toyota
“Today we can say for certain that Toyota intentionally concealed information and misled the public about the safety issues behind these recalls,” Attorney General Eric Holder said earlier this morning. “Put simply, Toyota’s conduct was shameful,” he continued.
Christopher P. Reynolds, chief legal officer for Toyota Motor North America, also released a statement on the settlement this morning. “Entering this agreement, while difficult, is a major step toward putting this unfortunate chapter behind us. We remain extremely grateful to our customers who have continued to stand by Toyota. Moving forward, they can be confident that we continue to take our responsibilities to them seriously.”
Costs to Toyota
According to USA Today, Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE:TM) (TYO:7203) has already doled out more than $1.6 billion to car owners in lawsuits and paid federal fines in 2010 and 2012 totaling almost $34 million for delays in their reporting of safety defects to the National Highway Safety Transportation Authority.
The federal criminal probe settled today was the last remaining hurdle for the company in moving on from the acceleration recall incident. The separate NHTSA and congressional probes of the Toyota sudden acceleration recalls have already wrapped up.