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Toyota reaches $1.2B settlement of U.S. criminal probe—reports

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Bloomberg News report

NEW YORK  (March 19, 2014) — Toyota Motor Corp. has reached a settlement to end a U.S. criminal probe of unexpected acceleration of its vehicles, sources told Bloomberg and two other major news outlets on March 18.

The settlement, which isn’t final, may be announced as early as today and will be for $1.2 billion, two people, who asked not to be named because the agreement isn’t public, told Bloomberg.

CNN and The Wall Street Journal also reported that the settlement was reached. The Journal began reporting on the negotiations in a Feb. 7 story.

The car maker recalled more than 10 million vehicles for problems related to unintended acceleration in 2009 and 2010. That action stared with a September 2009 announcement that it was recalling 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles because of a defect that might cause floor mats to jam accelerator pedals. The company later recalled vehicles over defects involving the pedals themselves.

In addition to the criminal probe by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office and the New York office of the FBI, the recalls led to lawsuits claiming that defects harmed the value of Toyota vehicles or caused accidents leading to death and injury. Toyota settled suits brought by car owners who claimed economic losses for about $1.6 billion.

Jerika Richardson, a spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, declined to comment on the settlement. Kelly Langmesser, a spokeswoman for the FBI in New York, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment on it.

“Toyota has cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s office in this matter for more than four years,” Steve Curtis, a Toyota spokesman, said in an emailed statement. “During that time, we have made fundamental changes to become a more responsive and customer-focused organization, and we are committed to continued improvements.”

Mr. Curtis declined to comment on a possible settlement.

This Bloomberg report appeared on the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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