BREAKING: Toyota will pay $16.4M fine, denies wrongdoing

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Old 19 Apr 2010, 02:30 pm   #1 (permalink)
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Default BREAKING: Toyota will pay $16.4M fine, denies wrongdoing

Filed under: Government/Legal, Recalls, Safety, Toyota, Earnings/Financials

Just yesterday, we told you that Toyota was reportedly set to pay the full $16.4 million fine to the U.S. government, so long as the automaker would not be required to admit any wrongdoing. Well, the 'T's have been crossed, the 'I's have been dotted, and the official statements have been released. The largest civil fine ever issued to an automaker by the U.S. government will be paid by way of electronic funds transfer, and will take place within the next 30 days. For what it's worth, The Detroit News reports that if the $16.4 million maximum cap on fines didn't exist, it could have charged $6,000 per vehicle - that's $13.8 billion. Ouch.

As part of that process, Toyota now openly admits that it could have (and should have) done a better job of sharing relevant information, and it welcomes "a new, more transparent chapter" in its relationship with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Additionally, the automaker has outlined a few of its next steps, citing that a new Chief Quality Officer has been appointed for North America and that it has strengthened its information-gathering capabilities in an effort to investigate potential problems with quicker response times. Still, Toyota denies that it withheld any pertinent information from NHTSA, saying, "We did not try to hide a defect to avoid dealing with a safety problem."

In response, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has issued the following statement regarding Toyota's decision:
By failing to report known safety problems as it is required to do under the law, Toyota put consumers at risk. I am pleased that Toyota has accepted responsibility for violating its legal obligations to report any defects promptly. We are continuing to investigate whether the company has lived up to all its disclosure obligations.
The U.S. House of Representatives oversight panel plans to hold another hearing on May 6 to further investigate Toyota's conduct. What's more, remember that Toyota could be in more hot water regarding the ongoing investigation regarding the Lexus GX460 SUV, and there are still lingering questions about possible electronic gremlins in Toyota throttles to contend with. Still, it's good to see that an initial resolution has been reached between Toyota and NHTSA on this matter, though it is still possible that further fines will follow. Hit the jump to read the automaker's official release, as well as a statement from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

[Sources: Toyota, NHTSA, The Detroit News | Image: Ramin Talaie/Getty]Continue reading BREAKING: Toyota will pay $16.4M fine, denies wrongdoing

BREAKING: Toyota will pay $16.4M fine, denies wrongdoing originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 19 Apr 2010 10:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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