GM could face hefty criminal charges because of faulty switches

General Motors could face hefty criminal charges after because of identified criminal wrongdoing after a federal investigation looked into a defect linked to at least 104 deaths.

The Justice Department found General Motors failed to publicize a defect involving certain ignition switches.

According to a New York Times report, investigators are currently negotiation what could be a record penalty for GM.

A settlement, which is thought to surpass the $1.2 billion paid out by Toyota over sudden unintended acceleration, could be reached as soon as this summer.

Some former employees of GM are also reportedly under investigation.

The report said that GM is cooperating with investigators and may earn a ‘cooperation credit’ for its stance on the probe.

‘We are cooperating fully with all requests,’ a GM statement said on Friday. ‘We are unable to comment on the status of the investigation, including timing.’

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Last February GM began recalling 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other cars with faulty ignitions.

Faulty switches

Last February GM began recalling 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other cars with faulty ignitions because the switches were faulty and could unexpectedly turn the vehicle off.

GM then recalled additional vehicles for safety reasons.

In total, 30 million GM vehicles were recalled in 2014 – a record high for the company.

At least 104 deaths have been linked to the ignition defect so far, officials said.


Company executives knew about the problem years before a recall

The reason why GM could be held criminally liable is because company executives admitted that they knew about the problem years before a large-scale recall was announced.

Ken Rimer, who lost his 18-year-old stepdaughter, Natasha Weigel, in a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt crash, told the NYT:

“Is it going to be closure? No,” he said. “But it’s going to be a little bit of justice.”