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Published: Fri, December 30, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

U.S., Takata nearing agreement on $1 billion fine


Japan's Takata Corp.is nearing a criminal settlement of up to $1 billion with USA prosecutors over its exploding air bag recall, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Some 100 million Takata airbags have been recalled worldwide over a defect that can send metal and plastic shrapnel from the inflator canister hurtling toward drivers and passengers when an airbag is deployed.

At least 184 people have been injured in the United States in incidents involving potentially deadly Takata air bags.

The recall process has been painfully slow despite repeated attempts by federal safety regulators to take the brakes off.

In November 2015, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration imposed a record $200 million civil fine against Takata for providing inadequate and inaccurate information to regulators about the defect. The faulty air-bags were linked to a number of deaths and injuries. "All vehicle owners should regularly check their vehicles for recalls at SaferCar.gov and go get them fixed at no cost as soon as replacement parts are available". The recall is expected to ultimately affect up to 70 million inflators at risk of rupturing in 42 million total recalled vehicles in the US. It's led to the largest automotive safety recall in USA history (42M vehicles with nearly 70M Takata air bags).

One focus of the criminal probe centers on Takata providing misleading testing reports to customers including Honda Motor Co., a large buyer of the Japanese company's air bags, the people said.

"A settlement fee of a maximum $1 billion is not an impossible amount for Takata to handle", said Nobuyuki Fujimoto, a senior market analyst at SBI Securities Co.in Tokyo.

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