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Takata Corporation and Three Former Executives Charged With Wire Fraud Related to Defective Automobile Airbag Inflators

On January 13, 2017, an information was filed in U.S. District Court, Detroit, Michigan, charging Takata Corporation with wire fraud stemming from the company’s fraudulent conduct in relation to sales of defective airbag inflators. An indictment was also unsealed in that court charging Tsuneo Chikaraishi, Hideo Nakajima, and Shinichi Tanaka with conspiracy and wire fraud charges in relation to the same conduct.
This investigation was based on information that Takata Corporation and its U.S.-based subsidiary, Takata Holdings, Inc., had knowledge of defective airbags and failed to disclose them to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and the traveling public. Takata is one of the world's largest suppliers of automotive safety-related equipment, including airbags. OEMs relied on Takata to provide airbag inflators that met their specifications, and several were allegedly affected by the defendants’ scheme, including Honda, Toyota, Subaru, and Nissan. Takata’s inflators, which feature an ammonium-nitrate-based propellant, were subject to the largest recall in U.S. history, which continues to grow.
The defendants were employed as engineers and executives at Takata until approximately 2015, in both the United States and Japan. The indictment alleges that they engaged in, and/or caused others to engage in, the practice of deleting, altering, and manipulating airbag inflator-testing data, and that false information was provided to OEMs. Some of the removed information included ruptures that occurred during airbag inflator testing. It is alleged that the defendants caused airbag inflator ballistic test and effluent gas test results to be changed on several airbag inflator products.
DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Michigan.
Note: Indictments, informations, and criminal complaints are only accusations by the Government. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.