General Motors, which last month through a deferred prosecution agreement was forced to pay a fine of $900 million in relation to its deadly ignition switch recall, will now be supervised by a former top prosecutor in New York City for three years.
The federal monitor is part of the agreement to end the US criminal investigation into the company’s wrongdoings that led to the massive recall of vehicles with defective ignition switches, triggered a massive scandal around the safety practices of the company and made Gm recall a record tally of vehicles last year in its home market. Bart Schwartz, the former chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, has been tasked to oversee and review policies and practices at GM, including the way the carmaker handles procedures on vehicle defects and safety campaigns. The appointment was made by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office was responsible for investigating General Motors.
General Motors announced early last year that millions of its older vehicles – mainly Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion models – were unsafe: the ignition switch could trigger and engine shutdown, thus cutting power to crucial safety systems, including airbags. The defect has been tied to 124 deaths and hundreds of injuries and sparked a huge crisis for the automaker after it admitted it had ordered the recall at least a decade later. Schwartz has experience serving as a monitor or compliance adviser for other companies, including BP PLC and Deutsche Bank AG, and General Motors said – through Craig Glidden, an executive vice president and general counsel – it would support the new federal monitor.