DETROIT (AP) —Takata Corp. and three former employees were charged by federal prosecutors with concealing deadly defects in automotive air bag inflators. The inflators are linked to at least 16 deaths worldwide, 11 in the U.S.
A federal grand jury indicted the former employees — Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima and Tsuneo Chikaraishi. Prosecutors also charged the company.
According to an indictment, as early as 2000 the trio of workers falsified and altered reports to hide from customers tests that showed the inflators could rupture or otherwise fail to meet specifications. They were charged with six counts of conspiracy and wire fraud, while the company faces one count of wire fraud.
The indictments were unsealed Friday, just ahead of a Justice Department news conference to announce a corporate penalty against the Japanese company.