“GM will pay $900M to end US criminal probe over ignition-switch issues”

Details at ABA Journal. The settlement inevitably invites comparison with Toyota’s agreement to pay the federal government $1.2 billion to settle criminal charges over alleged coverup on the sudden acceleration issue. One difference that comes to mind is that GM’s use of a flimsy ignition switch was a genuine design flaw that appears to have contributed to numerous accidents and deaths, while the Toyota “flaw” was imaginary.

P.S. “Apparently, there is no Vice President In Charge Of Going To Jail at General Motors.” [Daniel Fisher]


  • Toyota = private company
    GM = Government Motors

    :. Q.E.D.

  • I didn’t realize it was OK to buy your way out of a criminal investigation. I’m not sure if criminal charges are rated or not. It seems to be that whichever government official was involved is either guilty of blackmail or accepting a bribe.

    • Ben,

      Here’s the thing, the criminal charges in this case were made against the corporation itself, not individual executives.

      Criminal charges against a corporate entity almost never result in penalties other than fines even thought there are a couple of other options. Jailing executives would require filing charges against the individual executives.

      So from that perspective, it’s a plea bargain not a bribe or blackmail.

      Criminal charges against individual corporate employees would require proving that they knew (or in the case of criminal negligence should have known) that the ignition switch was too flimsy. They probably don’t have any evidence that would let them go after anyone higher up than the head of GM’s design engineering team.