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Federal prosecutors probe GM’s lawyers over possible recall delay

General Motors CEO Mary Barra Testifies Before Senate Committee About GM's RecallsGeneral Motors CEO Mary Barra Testifies Before Senate Committee About GM's Recalls
Where will the buck stop?Alex Wong--Getty Images

Federal prosecutors are looking into suspicions that members of General Motors Corp’s (GM) legal department hid evidence regarding faulty ignition switches from regulators, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The investigation is a blow to GM’s hopes to draw a line under a series of recalls over technical faults in its cars hat caused at least 13 deaths over a decade.

The WSJ said the investigation, which is being led by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, is focusing on the question of whether GM’s lawyers knew that the ignition switches were faulty but failed to tell regulators. It said the probe is at an early stage and may not result in any charges. It also quoted GM as saying it is cooperating with the investigation.

GM has already dismissed 15 employees, including some from its legal department, as a result of an internal investigation. Some of the lawmakers on a Congressional committee looking into the recalls have criticized the company for not holding general counsel Michael Millikin to account.

A similar investigation against Toyota Motor (TOYOF) had led to it being fined $1.2 billion in March.