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Takata could pay up to $200M in US air bag deal

The Department of Transportation announced Tuesday a fine of up to $200 million on Japanese air bag maker Takata for lapses in its recall of faulty air bag inflators.

The embattled company will pay $70 million in cash, and would face an additional penalty of up to $130 million if it violates terms of the deal with the DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Under the agreement, an independent monitor will audit Takata for the next five years as the company phases out certain inflators, which the NHTSA said are linked to seven deaths and dozens of injuries.

If the NHTSA levies the full $200 million fine, it would be the largest civil penalty in the agency's history.

"This settlement is an important step forward for Takata that will enable us to focus on rebuilding the trust of automakers, regulators and the driving public," said Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada in a statement.

Technician Edward Bonilla holds a recalled Takata airbag inflator after he removed it from a Honda Pilot at the AutoNation Honda dealership service department in Miami, Florida June 25, 2015.
Joe Skipper | Skipper
Technician Edward Bonilla holds a recalled Takata airbag inflator after he removed it from a Honda Pilot at the AutoNation Honda dealership service department in Miami, Florida June 25, 2015.

Takata did not "issue a timely recall" after it knew about safety issues, U.S. officials said.

"For years, Takata has built and sold defective products, refused to acknowledge the defect, and failed to provide full information to NHTSA, its customers, or the public," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement.

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As of late last month, more than 19 million cars in the U.S. had been recalled to fix Takata air bag inflators that could potentially rupture.