Takata pleads guilty in air bag scandal, agrees to pay $1B

The costs of the recalls have saddled Takata, which also makes seat belts, with two straight years of losses.

In January, prosecutors said Takata put profits ahead of safety by taking part in a scheme to falsify and alter test reports that showed airbag inflators could rupture for more than a decade.

Tokyo-based Takata Corporation, one of the world's largest suppliers of automotive safety-related equipment, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud and was sentenced to pay a total of $1 billion in criminal penalties stemming from the company's conduct in relation to sales of defective airbag inflators.

BMW, Nissan, Ford and Toyota declined comment.

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The federal court in Miami is handling dozens of lawsuits against Takata and the automakers. The allegations are based in part on the automakers' own documents, the filing says.

"Automotive defendants had independent knowledge ... that Takata's airbags were not safe well before installing them in millions of vehicles", said a filing from plaintiffs attorneys at Podhurst Orseck, a law firm, according to an Industry Week report.

A group of five major automakers faces a lawsuit over alleged wrongdoing in the Takata recall crisis.

Honda, in a statement, called the plaintiffs' filing "misleading".

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The auto companies have asserted that they were deceived by Takata and should not be held liable.

In pleading guilty to fraud, Takata acknowledged it knew millions of its airbag inflators could inflate too forcefully and fling lethal shards of metal into passengers. The inflators are blamed for at least 16 deaths worldwide and more than 180 injuries. That would've caused delays in the supply of replacement airbag inflators needed to carry out the largest automotive recall in USA history. The ammonium nitrate that ignites the air bag inflators can be damaged by moisture over time, especially in humid environments, causing the danger of explosion.

Takata Corp.'s chief financial officer Yoichiro Nomura leaves federal court in Detroit on Monday.

The U.S. Justice Department has also charged Takata executives Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima and Tsuneo Chikaraishi with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of wire fraud in an indictment was unsealed on January 13.

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