Three Takata Executives Indicted in U.S. Over Faulty Airbags

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The United States also has indicted three former Takata executives in the case, bringing the first criminal charges in a scandal over exploding airbags that caused the largest USA auto safety recall.

Hideo Nakajima, Tsuneo Chikaraishi and Shinichi Tanaka are Japanese citizens and not in US custody. Three former Takata executives were also indicted in the case.

It is expected that the Japanese airbag maker will face a fine of US$1 billion and will plead guilty to criminal wrongdoing.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Takata is set to pay $850 million as restitution to automakers, devote $125 million to a victim compensation fund, pay $25 million in criminal penalties and submit to an independent compliance monitor.

Nineteen automakers, 22 brands and more than 42 million vehicles worldwide were affected.

There are 46 million recalled Takata air bag inflators in 29 million vehicles in the USA, the agency said.

"If they choose instead to engage in fraud, we will hold accountable the individuals and business entities who are responsible", U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement.

The inflators can explode with excessive force, launching metal shrapnel at passengers in cars and trucks.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has been a vocal critic of Takata and spearheaded a review of the company's air bag testing past year.

The indictments were unsealed Friday, just ahead of a Justice Department news conference to announce a corporate penalty against the Japanese company.

Arrest warrants were issued for all three executives.

Earlier on Friday Takata shares closed nearly 17% higher in Tokyo on reports of the settlement with U.S. regulators.

If you own any of these vehicles or any other vehicle that's part of the Takata airbag recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges you to not drive these cars unless you "are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately, free of charge".

Federal officials said years of humid weather, along with other factors, could cause the propellant in driver- and passenger-side air-bag inflaters to burn hotter than it should, leading to shard-blasting ruptures that Takata blamed on "over-aggressive combustion".

Honda Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Fiat Chrysler are among the biggest customers for Takata inflators.

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