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Former Takata execs charged, Ford and Honda expand recall

Three former Takata executives have been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of wire fraud for transfers of funds. The charges stem from their alleged involvement with covering up faulty Takata airbag inflators.

By Mike Davey

Detroit, Michigan — January 15, 2017 — Three former employees of Takata have been formally indicted by a US federal grand jury in Detroit. The charges stem from the well-known issues surrounding Takata airbags in recent years. The executives are alleged to have concealed defects in the company’s airbag inflators. A statement from the US Justice Department says the three were suspended from Takata in 2015.

The inflators can explode with too much force, launching shrapnel into drivers and passengers. There have been at least 16 deaths attributed to the inflators and over 180 injuries. Takata manufactured airbag inflators for many different OEMs, and the faulty inflators touched off what may the largest automotive recall in world history. In the US alone, the recall involved more than 42 million vehicles.

The charges were filed against Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima and Tsuneo Chikaraishi. All three were long-time executives at Takata until 2015, and all three worked both in Japan and Takata’s US operations. Each was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of wire fraud for transfers of funds that occurred between 2012 and 2015.

It is alleged that the executives deceived manufacturers “through false and fraudulent reports and other information that concealed the true condition of the inflators,” according to the indictment. The indictment also alleges that the men knew back in 2000 that the inflators were not performing to specifications and had ruptured during testing.

“Defendants commonly referred to the removal or alteration of unfavourable test data that was to be provided to Takata customers as ‘XX-ing’ the data,” according to the indictment.

In June 2005, Nakajima said in an email that “they had no choice but to manipulate test data, and that they needed to ‘cross the bridge together.’”
Multiple news outlets have reported that Takata will pay around a $1 billion penalty.

In other news surrounding the Takata recall, both Honda and Ford have recalled another two million vehicles in Canada and the US. American Honda will recall an additional 772,000 Honda and Acura vehicles. Just under 300,000 Honda vehicles will be recalled in Canada.  Ford is also expanding its recall, with over 161,00 cars in Canada and nearly 665,000 cars in the US affected.

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