The U.S. has reached a $1.2 billion settlement with Toyota Motor Corp. and filed a criminal charge alleging the Japanese automaker defrauded consumers by issuing misleading statements about safety issues in Toyota and Lexus vehicles.
Under the agreement, announced Wednesday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the company will admit that it misled U.S. consumers by making deceptive statements about two safety issues affecting its vehicles. As a result, Toyota will pay a $1.2 billion financial penalty under a “deferred prosecution agreement.”
The FBI in New York led the investigation into Toyota, beginning in 2010.
“Toyota put sales over safety and profit over principle,” said FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos, in a statement. “The disregard Toyota had for the safety of the public was outrageous. Not only did Toyota fail to recall cars with problem parts, they continued to manufacture new cars with the same parts they knew were deadly.”
A Toyota spokesperson told CBS News early Wednesday that, “Toyota has cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s office in this matter for more than four years. During that time, we have made fundamental changes to become a more responsive and customer-focused organization, and we are committed to continued improvements.”
The case has hinged on whether Toyota was forthright in reporting quality problems related to unintended acceleration troubles.
Toyota issued massive recalls, mostly in the U.S., totaling more than 10 million vehicles for various problems including faulty brakes, gas pedals and floor mats.
From 2010 through 2012, Toyota Motor Corp. paid fines totaling more than $66 million for delays in reporting unintended acceleration problems.