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Business

Takata to plead guilty in air bag case

Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corp. is expected to plead guilty today to a criminal charge and agree to $1 billion in penalty and restitution payments for concealing a deadly air bag inflator problem.

The company is scheduled to be in U.S. District Court in Detroit this afternoon. Last month it agreed to plead guilty to a single count of wire fraud. Three executives have also been indicted on charges that they falsified test reports.

Takata air bag inflators can explode with too much force, spewing shrapnel towards drivers and passengers. At least 16 people have been killed worldwide and more than 180 have been hurt. The problem touched off the largest automotive recall in U.S. history involving 42 million vehicles and 60 million inflators.

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The Tokyo-based manufacture which also makes seatbelts, has racked up two straight years of losses through the massive recalls but had hoped to return to profitability in this fiscal year.

But last Friday the company announced that instead of posting an expected 20 billion yen ($176 million) annual profit, it will again sink into loss - this time 64 billion yen ($562 million).

District Court judge George Caram Steeh is expected to be asked to appoint attorney Kenneth Feinberg to distribute restitution payments to victims and their families.

tr/uh (AP, Bloomberg)

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