"We can say for certain that Toyota intentionally concealed information and misled the public about the safety issues. ... Toyota confronted a public safety emergency simply as if it was a public relations problem. ... Put simply, Toyota's conduct was shameful." (Via U.S. Department of Justice)
That was Attorney General Eric Holder speaking Wednesday morning about the federal criminal investigation into Toyota that began in 2009. That announcement confirmed the automaker reached a $1.2 billion settlement with the government — the largest penalty for a car company in U.S. history.
The probe into Toyota came after reports of acceleration issues in some vehicles, causing them to suddenly speed up — becoming runaway cars. Toyota blamed the issue on floor mats jamming the gas pedal. (Via KSLA)
The Department of Justice says Toyota provided false information relating to those issues, violating systems designed to look after consumer safety. Holder said in his statement: "When car owners get behind the wheel, they have a right to expect that their vehicle is safe. If any part of the automobile turns out to have safety issues, the car company has a duty to be upfront about them."
You can check out our story from earlier this week that gives some background on the issue. It gained national attention in 2009 after a series of customer complaints about runaway Toyotas.
Toyota did eventually recall more than 10 million vehicles for inspection after ABC aired a terrifying 911 call from the careening car of an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer. He and his family were killed. (Via CBS)
CHRIS LASTRELLA: "Our accelerator's stuck. We're in trouble. There's no brake. ... We're approaching the intersection. Hold on. Pray."
Due to issues like that, Toyota has paid car owners almost $2 billion and millions of dollars in fines. This settlement is expected to keep the company from being charged criminally — but there's a catch.
"Going forward, the company will submit to rigorous review by an independent monitor that will examine and assess the manner in which Toyota regularly reports safety issues to the public and its regulator." (Via U.S. Department of Justice)
In a statement Wednesday morning, Christopher Reynolds, chief legal officer for Toyota Motor North America, said: "Entering this agreement, while difficult, is a major step toward putting this unfortunate chapter behind us. Moving forward, [customers] can be confident that we continue to take our responsibilities to them seriously." (Via USA Today)
Just as the government probe into Toyota is wrapping up, the same federal agents are now looking into General Motors.
"At least 12 people have been killed in connection with an ignition switch problem. GM's engineers apparently knew about it years ago, but a recall wasn't issued until last month." (Via TXCN)
GM's CEO Mary Barra has apologized and said she will likely testify before Congress.