'I didn't know about it,' former CEO tells Forbes
THE GM RECALL

Akerson, Solso deny knowing of GM ignition switch defect

'I didn't know about it,' former CEO tells Forbes

Tim Solso on the ignition switch recall, and Barra: "I became non-executive chairman in mid-January and I assure you I did not know anything about it at that point. Right after she knew, she called me."
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General Motors Chairman Tim Solso and former CEO Dan Akerson said neither they nor current CEO Mary Barra knew about GM’s defective ignition switches that have been linked to 13 deaths.

“If I knew about it, she’d have known about it. And I didn’t know about it,” Akerson is quoted today in a blog on the Forbes Web site as saying.

Solso is quoted in the same blog as saying: “I became non-executive chairman in mid-January and I assure you I did not know anything about it at that point. Right after she knew, she called me.”

Solso told Forbes there was nothing “extraordinary” about the initial conversation about the recall. “Clearly we didn’t know the depth and all the circumstances” until later, he told the magazine.

Akerson retired from GM on Jan. 15, about a year ahead of schedule, to care for his wife after she had been diagnosed with cancer. Barra said she and other GM executives learned of the ignition switch issue on Jan. 31. GM has acknowledged that some employees were aware of the problem for more than a decade.

Forbes this week has posted on its Web site a couple of stories from a recent interview with Akerson.

Today’s blog by auto reporter Joann Muller was the first to disclose direct denials by Solso and Akerson.

In the article published Wednesday, Akerson disputed speculation that Barra had been set up to take the fall for the faulty ignition switches.

“Mary has said it: The moment she became aware of the problem, as I would expect, she confronted it,” Akerson said. “She didn’t know about it. I bet my life on it.”

There are multiple federal investigations into the defective GM ignition switches, as well as a three-month internal investigation, which should render results as soon as next week.

You can reach Nora Naughton at nnaughton@crain.com.


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