Japanese auto parts company Takata agreed to pay $1 billion in criminal fines and plead guilty to federal wire fraud charges in a settlement over a deadly defect in its airbags that prompted a massive recall.
"Automotive suppliers who sell products that are supposed to protect consumers from injury or death must put safety ahead of profits," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement. "If they choose instead to engage in fraud, we will hold accountable the individuals and business entities who are responsible."
The airbag recalls began in 2008 as numerous injuries and deaths were reported due to the safety devices rupturing on inflation. To date, 11 people have been killed and more than 150 have been injured as a result of the ruptures; nine of those fatalities occurred in Honda vehicles.
The U.S. Justice Department accused Takata of concealing the fatal flaw in the airbags by submitting fake safety test reports and said the company did not take disciplinary action against those who falsified test data until 2015.
Three Takata executives - Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima and Tsuneo Chikaraishi - now face wire fraud charges in a Michigan federal court in connection with the scheme.
More than 30 automobile brands - including Ford, Chevrolet and BMW - are affected by the Takata recall currently being ordered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA). The recall is not expected to conclude until 2018.
Under the terms of the fine, Takata will pay a $25 million fine to the U.S. $125 million will go towards a fund for individuals who have been hurt by the faulty airbags. The remaining $850 million will be used to reimburse the automakers who have been affected by the Takata recall.