Justice Department announces Takata criminal penalty; 3 employees charged

FILE - This Oct. 22, 2014, file photo shows the North American headquarters of automotive parts supplier Takata in Auburn Hills, Mich.  (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
FILE - This Oct. 22, 2014, file photo shows the North American headquarters of automotive parts supplier Takata in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

DETROIT (AP) – The Justice Department has announced a criminal penalty against Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. as part of its investigation into the company’s defective air bag inflators.

Takata is agreeing to plead guilty to concealing air bag defects and will pay $1 billion in fines and restitution.

Three Takata employees have also been indicted on six counts of conspiracy, wire fraud in a scheme to conceal a defect in air bag inflators.

Takata air bag inflators can explode with too much force, spewing metal shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 16 people have been killed worldwide and more than 180 injured. The faulty inflators have touched off the largest automotive recall in U.S. history involving 42 million vehicles and 69 million inflators.

Multiple news outlets have reported that Takata will pay around a $1 billion penalty. The FBI has been investigating allegations that the company deceived federal regulators and tried to cover up the air bag problems.

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