US: lawmakers seek harder auto safety cover-up punishment

A couple of US senators have advanced on Tuesday new legislation that would have information concealment about dangerous corporate products legally treated as a crime, citing the Gm ignition switch recall scandal as a reason why tougher laws are required. US Senators Richard Blumenthal and Bob Casey have pushed forward new legislation that would seek to have corporate officers culpable of concealing information going to jail for up to five years and new fines imposed if someone knowingly conceals information about a product or action that could put the public or workers at risk of death or serious physical injury. They cited last month’s agreement between the US Justice Department and General Motors as the reason for the new legislation – in the case there were no criminal charges brought against any GM employee. The company only had to pay $900 million for the way it handled the defective ignition switch crisis. As a reminder, the company was more than 10 years overdue on a recall to handle the dangerous ignition switch and as a result 124 persons died and almost 30 were injured. The largest US automaker offered monetary settlements to the families through an ignition switch victim’s compensation fund. Blumenthal suggested these types of settlement were not enough as far as official accountability, citing both the GM investigation and the ongoing proceedings for the Takata airbag debacle. “For too long, individuals who deceive the public and cover up information about dangerous or deadly products have gotten away with little to no penalties,” commented the senator. Called the Hide No Harm Act, the legislation is devised to handle a vast array of products, noting other cases where corporate officials should have been penalized harder.