Takata says it is subject of U.S. criminal probe on air bags

Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:34pm EST
 
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By Maki Shiraki and Mari Saito

TOKYO/DETROIT (Reuters) - Takata Corp (7312.T: Quote) is the subject of a U.S. criminal investigation over defective car air bags that have been linked to five deaths, and executives from the Japanese company and its major client Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T: Quote) are expected to face congressional hearings in the coming week.

A federal grand jury in New York has subpoenaed Takata's U.S. unit to produce documents on the air bag defects, the company's Tokyo-based spokesman said on Thursday.

Separately, the U.S. Senate commerce committee scheduled a hearing next Thursday to solicit testimony from Takata executives on air bag defects, as well as from officials of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the vehicle recall process. Honda said it will also send a representative to testify before the Senate committee on Thursday.

Defective Takata air bag inflators have been found to explode with dangerous force in accidents, sending shards of metal into the vehicle.

An investigation by U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan into the Japanese safety-parts maker had been previously reported, but Thursday's statement is the first indication that a seated grand jury was seeking evidence. Takata disclosed the probe in a closed-door meeting with financial analysts, according to an account from one participant.

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Displays of Takata Corp are pictured at a showroom for vehicles in Tokyo November 5, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai