If Bloomberg's and the New York Times' reports are correct, the Justice Department has begun a criminal investigation into General Motors' car recalls (or lack thereof). This would be in addition to the House Energy and Commerce Committee's investigation, which was announced yesterday.
GM recalled 1.6 million vehicles in February "to correct a condition with the ignition switch that may allow the key to unintentionally move or switch to the 'accessory' or 'off' position, turning off the engine and most of the electrical components on the vehicle." That means your car would just stop running, and your airbags would not deploy in the case of an accident.
GM first began receiving reports about the faulty ignition switches in 2004, but it took a decade for it to issue the recall. In the meantime, at least 31 accidents occurred because of the ignition switches. Thirteen people died.
While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can fine GM up to $35 million if it finds that the company did not act quickly enough to recall the faulty switches, the DoJ can bring criminal charges. According to the New York Times, it is "rare, but not unprecedented" for the DoJ to do this. Last month, Toyota was said to be in final talks with the DoJ to pay more than $1 billion over its delay in recalling vehicles with acceleration issues. The recall has already cost Toyota billions in other fines and lawsuits.
GM has so far declined to comment on the DoJ investigation, which is said to be in early stages. The company is also in the process of investigating itself.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.