Automaker Toyota will reportedly pay $1.2 billion to end a criminal investigation brought by the U.S. government arising out of a defect in its vehicles. USA Today reports that U.S. District Judge William Pauley III accepted the penalty as part of a deferred prosecution agreement related to reports of sudden acceleration in Toyota cars.
Judge Paley said that the company engaged in “reprehensible” corporate misconduct when it deceived regulators regarding floor mats that could jam under pedals and sticky accelerators.
This is the largest-ever penalty assessed against a car manufacturer. Federal regulators are expected to watch the company until 2017 to make sure that no further corporate malfeasance occurs.
Defects in Toyota cars made national news after a fiery car accident involving an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer who was killed when a Lexus ES sped out of control near San Diego in 2009. The cause of that crash appears to be floor mats that jammed under the accelerator.
At least 400 lawsuits have been filed in connection with the defects.