The biggest American automaker, General Motors, admitted guilt Thursday in hiding information from both the government and motorists about a deadly defect in its vehicle ignition switches that has been linked to at least 124 deaths in crashes.
GM, third largest in the world behind Germany's Volkswagen and Japan's Toyota Motor, agreed to a $900 million fine to settle criminal charges in the case.
In addition, the automaker agreed to pay another $575 million to resolve damage claims from 1,385 death and injury cases stemming from accidents caused by the faulty switches and to company shareholders who claimed that the actions of GM officials diminished the value of the company's stock.
In a statement, GM chief executive Mary Barra said, “The mistakes that led to the ignition-switch recall should never have happened. We have apologized, and we do so again today."
According to the settlement of the case, GM knew about the faulty switches on some of its small-car models for more than a decade before finally disclosing the problem in 2013. With the defect, some cars stalled, preventing air bags from deploying in crashes.