Auto executives would face imprisonment and millions of dollars in fines for misleading vehicle-safety regulators under a new bill moving through U.S. Congress.
The new proposal from a Senate committee is in response to issues raised by the massive Toyota Motor Corp. safety recalls. Legislators say that executives need to be held accountable for lapses in safety, and that the new provision would serve as a deterrent, forcing automakers to be more honest about potential defects. Auto-industry officials fear the bill would turn executives into public scapegoats while failing to address the real causes of safety problems.
A provision backed by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D., W.Va.) would require a company’s senior executive in the United States to sign off on all documents submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as part of a safety probe. The executive would be fined up to $10 million in civil fines for submitting false or misleading information. The executive would also face up to 12 months of jail time.
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