US attorney Barbara McQuade of Michigan's Eastern District made the announcement. "Automotive suppliers who sell products that are supposed to protect consumers from injury or death must put safety ahead of profits," she said in a statement. "If they choose instead to engage in fraud, we will hold accountable the individuals and business entities who are responsible."
Under the deal, Tokyo-based Takata admitted that it has known since around 2000 that its ammonium-nitrate-based airbag inflators were unsafe and did not adequately fix the situation. Takata also produced fraudulent data to make the airbags appear safer. DOJ said Takata withheld information until 2015.
The three Takata executives charged were: Shinichi Tanaka, 59 years old; Hideo Nakajima, 65; and Tsuneo Chikaraishi, 61, according to the Justice Department. They were each charged with five counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud Dec. 7 for their alleged involvement. The indictments were unsealed Friday.
Of the $1-billion fine, $850 million will go to a fund for airbag recalls and replacements for car companies, which the feds said were victims of Takata's scheme. Another $125 million will go toward motorists injured as a result of the faulty airbags who have not already settled with the company.