Japan's Takata Corp. is nearing a criminal settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and is expected to pay up to $1 billion to resolve allegations of wrongdoing related to its faulty airbag inflators, The Wall Street Journal reported today.
The final figure could be in the high hundreds of millions of dollars, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Both the parties are discussing the possibility of the safety products supplier pleading guilty to criminal misconduct as part of the settlement, which could take place as soon as January, though the timing could slip, the newspaper reported.
Takata is expected to pay a part of the penalty up-front and the rest over a number of years, according to the report. The penalty is not "likely to eclipse $1 billion."
Both Takata and the the Justice Department declined to comment.
The company's airbag inflators, which can explode with excessive force in hot and humid conditions, have been linked to 11 deaths and at least 184 injuries in the U.S. Another five deaths have been linked to the airbags globally.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said earlier this month that it would press the auto industry to accelerate the pace of replacements for defective Takata airbag inflators and signaled a likely widening of the industry's largest ever recall.
Takata is restructuring and is in the process of selling itself. It is considering a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in the U.S. as part of that restructuring process.
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