Barra backed by former GM CEO image

Mary Barra, the first female CEO of a global automaker in the automotive industry, has been backed by her predecessor – Dan Akerson – which thinks she didn’t knew about the 2.6 million cars equipped with defective ignition switches.

The former chief executive of GM said he strongly believed she had no prior knowledge of the problem with the cars, which were recalled late February after the problem was knew internally at some levels since 2003.

“Mary has said it: The moment she became aware of the problem, as I would expect, she confronted it,” Akerson said in an interview with Forbes magazine. “She didn’t know about it. I bet my life on it.”

He added that the company’s board of directors didn’t appoint her January 15 to take the blame by knowingly putting her in an impossible situation with the ensuing crisis. Barra reputedly said, including during her testimony during the two congressional hearings in April, that when she first heard of the defect she immediately ordered the first wave of related recalls.

As General Motors is undergoing its own internal investigation, there are five federal probes (one concluded, by the NHTSA, which fined the automaker with the maximum amount possible) and according to various reports most of the executives questioned said that Barra and other top officials were unaware of the defect.