GM to Pay $35 Million U.S. Fine Over Ignition Switches

May 16, 2014

General Motors Co. will pay a $35 million fine as part of the U.S. Transportation Department’s investigation into the handling of faulty ignition switches in some of its vehicles, the automaker and government said on Friday.

GM also agreed to take part in “unprecedented oversight requirements,” including providing full access to its internal investigation and notifying federal transportation officials of any changes to GM’s effort to make repair parts, the government said.

GM must also “make significant and wide-ranging internal changes to its review of safety-related issues,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement.

Shares of GM rose slightly to $34.39 after details of the penalty emerged. Earlier in the session, the shares had fallen nearly 2 percent in anticipation of the government’s announcement.

In a statement, GM confirmed it would pay the fine.

“We are working hard to improve our ability to identify and respond to safety issues,” said Jeff Boyer, vice president of Global Vehicle Safety, who is assigned to integrate safety policies across the company.

The Transportation Department, along with other U.S. agencies, is investigating the timing of the automaker’s recall over faulty switches, which have been linked to at least 13 deaths.

GM engineers discovered the defect in 2001 and the company has been criticized for not recalling the vehicles earlier.

Congress, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and several states are conducting their own investigations, and GM’s internal probe is expected to be completed within the next two weeks.

It was not immediately clear how federal transportation officials’ announcement would affect the other probes.

NHTSA raised the maximum civil penalty for companies to $35 million after a previous major recall by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2010.

Friday’s announcement on GM came a day after the automaker GM announced five recalls covering nearly 3 million vehicles worldwide because of tail lamp malfunctions and potential faulty brakes.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman and Bernie Woodall in Detroit, and Richard Cowan and Eric Beech in Washington, and Jessica Dye in New York; Writing by Susan Heavey; editing by Bill Trott and Matthew Lewis)

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