Two of the former members of the US federal auto task force that were implicated in the overhauling of General Motors during its troubled 2009 bankruptcy disclosed they knew nothing about the defective ignition switches.
According to Harry Wilson and Steven Rattner, who lead the task force, they had no way of finding out about the problems in cars equipped with the faulty ignitions – linked to at least 13 deaths – unless someone at GM told them. Wilson added that the public scandal revealed the deeper cultural problems at the biggest US automaker, while adding they never met with lower level engineers in their time at the carmaker.
“We didn’t know about anything like this,” he said of the defective part. “It seems to have been basically stuck at the mid-level of the engineering department and not risen above that,” Wilson said at an event in Washington.
“We were not forensic accountants. We were not FBI investigators. We had about 40 days to do all this due diligence. We’re not going to find something like that out unless people tell you,” added Rattner.
So far, GM has been fined by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the maximum amount possible – a record $35 million – for delaying the response, as the company engineers discovered the defects back in 2001.