Toyota to Pay Record 1.2 Billion Fine for Hiding Safety Issues

    03 April, 2014


    This is the VOA Learning English Economics Report.

    Toyota Motor Corporation agreed to a record fine of $1.2 billion on March 19th. The fine brought to a close a United States criminal investigation into safety problems with some Toyota vehicles.

    Toyota is the world's largest carmaker. The head of the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder said the company will admit to misleading the public about two safety issues. The problems cause some vehicles to gain speed uncontrollably.

    Toyota to Pay Record 1.2 Billion Fine for Hiding Safety Issues
    FILE - In this photo released by the Utah Highway Patrol, a Toyota Camry is shown after it crashed as it exited Interstate 80 in Wendover, Utah.

    "Today, we can say for certain that Toyota intentionally concealed information and misled the public about the safety issues behind these recalls," said Holder.

    The settlement ends a four-year investigation into how much information Toyota withheld from safety officials. The problems involved poorly made floor coverings and gas pedals that could become stuck in position. The affected vehicles could speed up unexpectedly as a result.

    The company recalled about 10 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles. But it did not describe the full extent of the problems and said drivers were to blame. Attorney General Holder said Toyota agreed to have an independent group look at how the company deals with safety issues.

    "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," said Holder.

    Mr Holder said the fine was the largest criminal penalty against a car company in US history. He said the amount was right, because of Toyota's actions in the case.

    Toyota owners have brought hundreds of private legal cases against the company in connection with the acceleration issue. Last year, the carmaker agreed to pay more than $1 billion to buyers who said their vehicles lost value after the announcement of the recall.

    Toyota released a statement saying it has made "major changes" to its operations to become a more "responsive" company.

    The world's second largest carmaker, General Motors is also under federal investigation. GM has recalled more than 1.5 million vehicles. Federal officials are investigating problems with the starting mechanisms in some GM models from 2003 to 2007. A number of deadly accidents have been linked to the problems.

    And that is the VOA Learning English Economics Report. For more programs, English learning lessons and videos, go to our website You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. I'm Mario Ritter.