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Takata Fined $1 Billion for Lying About Deadly Airbag Inflators

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Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corporation has pleaded guilty to fraud and agreed to pay a $US1 billion ($1.3 billion) penalty for concealing a deadly defect in millions of its air bags.

Takata has pleaded guilty to fraud charges in the USA that claimed it hid evidence of potentially lethal issues with its vehicle airbag detonator system.

A MI court gave a green light to the agreement reached last month on the scandal at the heart of the biggest auto recall in history (about 100 million vehicles worldwide).

The automotive industry finally is ready to put one of the largest safety-related recalls ever behind it.

Representatives for BMW, Ford, Honda and Nissan did not immediately return a request for comment.

According to the filing, internal documents from Ford, Nissan, and Toyota suggest that despite concerns over the safety of the devices, the cost of vehicle production influenced the decision to keep using Takata's airbags, which have been found to explode with such force that pieces of metal fly at occupants.

The guilty plea was entered in U.S. District Court, Detroit.

From 2000 to 2015, the Japanese auto parts supplier is accused of falsifying data to cover up known defects about its faulty airbags in testing reports given to automakers. The U.S.is still looking to extradite three former Takata executives from Japan.

Unlike most other air bag makers, Takata uses the explosive chemical ammonium nitrate to inflate air bags instantly in a crash.

The plea agreement includes a $25 million criminal fine, a $125 million compensation fund to be set up 30 days from today and $850 million to be paid to automakers within five days of a sale or acquisition by another company. Steeh said he would pick a person to administer the restitution funds this week.

Honda said the plaintiffs' court filing contained "false assertions that Honda and other manufacturers behaved irresponsibly" and represented a "transparent effort" to maintain legal claims despite Takata admitting to deceiving the Japanese auto maker and other vehicle companies. By placing blame for the airbags exclusively on Takata, the settlement makes it harder for lawyers to sue automakers for damages. The company also labeled as false an allegation that it proceeded with Takata inflators for cost reasons while knowing they were risky.

They were "aware that rupture after rupture, both during testing and in the field, confirmed how unsafe and defective Takata's airbags were", the story continued.

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