U.S. weighs charges against GM over ignition switch recall: WSJ

Tue Jun 9, 2015 12:07pm EDT
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors are weighing criminal wire fraud charges against General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) over the company's failure to recall vehicles equipped with faulty ignition switches, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the newspaper said U.S. prosecutors in New York are considering other possible charges and have not made a final decision. Authorities hope to reach a settlement with the automaker by the end of summer or early fall, the WSJ reported.

Before the GM shareholders' meeting on Tuesday, Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said the automaker has "cooperated fully" with prosecutors and any settlement would be "on their timeline." She did not comment in detail on the report.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the Wall Street Journal report. A U.S. Department of Justice spokesman declined to comment.

According to the Wall Street Journal, prosecutors have determined that the company likely hid information about the switches and made misleading statements, a potential basis for wire fraud charges.

It was the latest potential legal problem for the No. 1 U.S. automaker as it grapples with the consequences of the deadly ignition-switch defect in its vehicles that has led to more than 100 deaths and 2.6 million recalls.

Detroit-based GM is already facing various legal action over the defect, although a U.S. judge in April ruled the company could be shielded from some lawsuits.

It also faces more than 4,300 claims for compensation from people who said they suffered injuries or from relatives of those killed in accidents, the lawyer overseeing the program has said.

The ignition-switch defect was originally noticed by GM more than a decade ago. But the first recalls began only in February 2014, despite years of consumer complaints.   Continued...

A view of the General Motors headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan is seen in this file photograph taken August 25, 2009.  REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky