GM to pay $900 million fine to settle ignition switch criminal case

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GM Recalls 2.42 Million Vehicles in Four U.S. Recalls

NEW YORK — General Motors will pay $900 million to settle criminal charges related to its flawed ignition switch that has been tied to at least 124 deaths.

Problems with the ignition switch could shut off the car while it was being driven, disabling the airbag, power steering and power brakes — and putting drivers and passengers at risk.

GM had already admitted that its employees were aware of the problem nearly a decade before it started to recall millions of the cars early last year. That delay is the basis behind the criminal charges.

The settlement was disclosed Thursday by the Justice Department. No individual GM executives were charged in the case. GM did not immediately have a comment on the settlement.

The automaker has set up a compensation fund to pay the families of those killed, as well as those injured, in accidents. GM will pay at least $150 million into the fund.

General Motors has also changed how it handles recalls. The result: a massive surge of more than 30 million recalls and an estimated $4.1 billion cost to repair cars and trucks, not including the cost of this fine.

GM has already agreed to pay the maximum possible fine of $35 million to settle civil charges with federal safety regulators.

The criminal settlement is just the latest announced by the Justice Department against corporations.

Last year Toyota agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle a case related to its failure to recall cars despite reports of unintended acceleration. In 2013 JPMorgan Chase agreed to a record $13 billion fine to settle criminal charges related to the sale of mortgage backed securities ahead of the 2008 financial crisis.