Federal prosecutors open criminal probe of GM recall: source

Tue Mar 11, 2014 6:09pm EDT
 
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By Emily Flitter and Aruna Viswanatha and Ben Klayman

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors are examining whether General Motors is criminally liable for failing to properly disclose problems with some of its vehicles that were linked to 13 deaths and led to a recall last month, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

The New York-based probe is in its early stages, and the source did not elaborate on the legal theory behind the potential criminal liability.

Federal investigators are reviewing information about how GM handled reports of problems with ignition switches that first came to light 10 years ago, according to the source.

The source did not want to be named because the probe has not been disclosed publicly.

GM declined to comment on Tuesday. Shares of GM closed down 5 percent to $35.18 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The federal probe by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan adds to a growing list of U.S. authorities examining the recall, which GM announced in February. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) previously opened an investigation into whether GM reacted swiftly enough in its recall.

Earlier on Tuesday, Reuters reported that a U.S. Senate committee chairman is seeking a hearing on the issue. The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee also ordered GM and NHTSA to turn over information about GM's ignition switch problems.

The problems in some instances allowed the engine and other components, including front airbags, to turn off while the vehicle was traveling at high speed. More than 1.6 million older vehicles are affected.   Continued...

 
The General Motors logo is seen outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan in this file photograph taken August 25, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky/Files