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General Motors Should Be Prosecuted, Not Protected

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: Today General Motors Co. (GM) agreed to pay $900 million and enter a deferred prosecution agreement to end a U.S. Department of Justice criminal investigation into its handling of defective ignition switches in many of its vehicles.

Shame on the Department of Justice and shame on its prosecutors. Instead of advancing justice, they have compounded the damage inflicted on those injured and killed by GM’s wrongdoing, and on their families.

This deal will not deter future corporate wrongdoers, it will not hold GM accountable and it sets back the demand for justice by the family members of victims of GM’s horrible actions.

It is unconscionable that a giant corporation can conceal information about deadly safety defects for a decade, be responsible for the deaths of more than 100 people as a result and escape any criminal liability based only on a corporate fine and a promise not to do wrong again in the future. It is equally unconscionable that none of the executives inside General Motors responsible for this disaster are going to be held criminally accountable, as now appears to be the case.

Congress must establish that it is a crime for corporate officers to knowingly conceal serious dangers that lead to consumer or worker deaths or injuries. The Hide No Harm Act introduced last Congress by U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Bob Casey would do just that, and we look forward to supporting it when it is reintroduced.