Monday, October 12, 2015

GM and VW

Which would you rather drive?

"US to settle criminal probe of fatal GM defects" by Ben Protess New York Times  |  September 17, 2015

Actually, it's a cover-up because the regulators were complicit and ignored the problem.

NEW YORK — Prosecutors are poised to settle a criminal investigation into General Motors, according to people briefed on the matter, accusing the automaker of failing to disclose a safety defect tied to at least 124 deaths. The case, which federal prosecutors plan to release Thursday, would cap a wide-ranging investigation that tainted the automaker’s reputation for quality and safety and damaged its bottom line.

The case is not expected to include charges against individual GM executives, but it will impose a penalty of nearly $1 billion on GM and an admission of facts surrounding the wrongdoing, according to people briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. One of the people said the financial penalty would fall below the $1 billion mark, though not significantly so.

The defect involved ignition switches that could unexpectedly turn off, cutting power to the engine and disabling power steering, power brakes, and air bags.

Although the penalty will stain GM’s reputation, the punishment from prosecutors fell short of what even some within GM had expected. The size of the penalty, one of the people said, reflected a benefit that GM earned because of its cooperation with the investigation.

Stop the car!


The company has agreed to sign a so-called deferred-prosecution agreement, some GM officials said, a deal that effectively amounts to probation for corporations.

Notably, GM employees are also expected to avoid indictment, although the investigation is expected to continue, according to the people briefed on the matter. After more than a yearlong investigation, federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the FBI struggled to pin criminal wrongdoing on any one GM employee, concluding instead that the problems stemmed from a collective failure at the automaker.

That outcome, a disappointment for some victims of the GM safety crisis, illustrates the limitations of new Justice Department rules that emphasize criminal charges against corporate employees. 

Yup, corporate criminals are too big to jail.

That initiative, announced last week in a memo to federal prosecutors across the country, represented acknowledgment of criticism that prosecutors have secured record fines from big banks and corporations, but few indictments of their employees.

That policy — which states that companies can no longer obtain credit for cooperating with the government unless they identify employees and turn over evidence against them — does not apply to the GM case. For one thing, prosecutors are not beholden to the new rules for existing cases. Sally Q. Yates, the deputy attorney general and the author of the memo, said in an interview last week that the changes would affect such cases only to the extent that it was “practicable.”

And in many ways, the new rules merely codify practices that were already in place at many US attorneys’ offices, including the office in Manhattan, which led the GM investigation. As such, the prosecutors most likely followed practices that mirror Yates’s memo when investigating the GM case.

The stumbling block to charging GM employees, officials say, stemmed from a lack of evidence and high legal burdens, according to the people briefed on the matter. The wire fraud statute, which is typically used to prosecute auto cases, requires prosecutors to prove that someone intended to defraud, not just that the conduct was deceptive.

I didn't mean to!

That burden stands in contrast to other industries, including food and pharmaceuticals, in which intent is not required to prove criminal wrongdoing. As The New York Times reported in July, the automotive industry spent nearly five decades beating back efforts to strengthen criminal penalties.

Still, prosecutors emphasize the importance of charging companies, even when it would be inappropriate to charge their employees, because such cases send a deterrent message to the corporate world....

I'm so sick of deterrent me$$ages to the corporate world which then goes back to bu$ine$$ as usual.


"GM settles criminal case, hundres of suits after ignition switch deaths" by Danielle Ivory and Bill Vlasic New York Times   September 18, 2015

NEW YORK — General Motors went a long way Thursday toward clearing the legal morass stemming from its decade-long failure to disclose a deadly safety defect in millions of older small cars.

In simultaneous announcements, the automaker said it had resolved two substantial avenues of litigation: a criminal investigation by the US Justice Department, and hundreds of private lawsuits filed by victims of a faulty ignition switch that has been linked to at least 124 deaths.

The settlements are a significant milestone for GM as it tries to move past the biggest safety crisis in its history.

I'm glad they can move past it because many families can't.

In the sprawling criminal investigation, GM has agreed to pay $900 million for failing to tell regulators about a defective ignition switch, which is a crime.

Yup, knew it was there, calculated the risks, did a risk-benefit analysis, and decided to shut up. Who cares about people's lives? It would cost more to fix the defect and affect profits. 

This is the same pos company that was bailed out to the tune of billions (taxpayers got that all back, well, not really but that's the corporate narrative).

The Justice Department agreed to defer prosecution for three years on one count of wire fraud and one count of engaging in a scheme to conceal a deadly safety defect, provided that the automaker pays the financial penalty, submits to independent monitoring, and continues to accept and acknowledge responsibility for its conduct. It is, in effect, corporate probation.

“The mistakes that led to the ignition switch recall should never have happened,” said Mary T. Barra, GM’s chief executive. “We have apologized, and we do so again today.”

Though the settlement may sting GM’s reputation, the company will pay less than Toyota, which agreed to pay $1.2 billion last year after concealing unintended-acceleration problems in its cars.

Look at what the propaganda pre$$ is concerned about: image and reputation.

The government’s settlement with GM did not sit well with some family members of the victims, as well as some lawmakers.

Oh, no?

“This outcome fails to require adequate and explicit admission of criminal culpability from GM and individual criminal actions,” said senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, both Democrats, in a joint statement.

In the private lawsuits, GM said it had set aside $575 million to settle the cases of about 1,380 people, all represented by Robert C. Hilliard, a lawyer who is among those leading the class-action cases against the automaker. In addition, it settled a shareholder suit filed by the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System.

Altogether, the private settlements resolve more than half of the outstanding private lawsuits filed against GM.

The cases grew out of the disclosure last year that the ignition switch in Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions, and other small cars was prone to turn off, cutting the engine and disabling systems like power steering and air bags. GM began recalling 2.6 million cars that could have the faulty switch in February 2014, but that was only the beginning.

By the end of the year, the faulty switch had spurred a complete reexamination and overhaul of safety practices in the auto industry, not only among manufacturers but also within the federal agency charged with overseeing them, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Or not.


RelatedGM vows to lead as autos evolve

Self-driving cars that promises bold moves.

Auto sales in US soared last month

Except at Volkswagen:

Volkswagen’s US chief knew of a problem in 2014
Volkswagen chief apologizes for rigging emissions tests
Pressure growing on Volkswagen’s chief executive
For loyal VW owners, a sense of kinship dented
Amid scandal, CEO quits a gravely wounded Volkswagen
Chairman warns scandal may threaten VW’s existence
States launch VW investigation
VW’s Trickery May affect Europe, too, German Official Says
VW appoints Porsche chief as CEO amid diesel cheating crisis
Legal woes mounting for Volkswagen as criminal cases loom
When German engineering is digital deception

Why did the Holohoax™ just come to mind?

VW details brands affected by scandal
Amid scandal, VW may cut jobs, will cancel some investments


"The rules further strengthen California’s toughest-in-the- nation carbon emissions standards, but oil producers warn the changes could drive up costs for consumers at the gas pump. The rules require producers to cut the carbon content of fuels. The move to restore the program is not related to Volkswagen drawing global attention for violating federal and state rules that regulate emissions."

Meaning it does, and the problem is being fixed as we speak. 

For the record, I have never owned a Volkswagen. Hitler drove a Volkswagen. That's what I always heard. Or was it an Audi?

"2 million-plus Audis have illegal software" by Jack Ewing and Bill Vlasic New York Times  September 29, 2015

FRANKFURT — The potential damage to Volkswagen from an emissions cheating scandal grew again Monday, as prosecutors said they were investigating the former chief executive and the company disclosed that more than 2 million Audi-brand cars — a crucial source of Volkswagen’s profit — were among the affected vehicles.

Also on Monday, Volkswagen’s Audi unit said about 2.1 million of its vehicles, almost all of them in Europe, contained software that could be used to trick emissions testers....


Any problems with the airbags?

Also see:

UAW warns of strike against Fiat Chrysler

US agency says Fiat Chrysler didn’t report deaths

At least the Pope was kept safe. 

Now there is a battery problem?

Where did they build the thing, China?

Strike averted at Fiat Chrysler