Police Search Mitsubishi Offices
TOKYO (AP) _ Police searched the headquarters of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. as well as two factories and the homes of two officials Sunday in connection with the automaker’s massive 20-year cover-up of auto defects, an official said.
They confiscated more than 1,000 items, including records of meetings of Mitsubishi officials discussing recalls, consumer complaints, and computer disks containing records of recalls and consumers’ claims, a Tokyo Metropolitan Police official said on condition of anonymity.
He would not identify the Mitsubishi officials whose homes were searched, but said the factories were in Kawasaki, just south of Tokyo, and in Nagoya, central Japan.
Mitsubishi spokesman Isao Sakaibara declined to comment.
Transportation Minister Hajime Morita said Friday that the government and police were in the final stages of pressing charges against the carmaker, which the ministry says hid about 64,000 consumer complaints for more than 20 years.
A plan under consideration would fine Mitsubishi $37,800 at most, and no Mitsubishi executives or employees would face prosecution.
Automakers are required to report consumer complaints to the Transport Ministry and must issue recalls if serious defects are found.
Since last month, Mitsubishi has recalled 620,000 vehicles for defects, including failing brakes, fuel leaks and malfunctioning clutches. The recalls came only after government inspectors found documents about auto defects hidden in a company locker room.
None of the defects has been known to cause any deaths, though several accidents in Japan have been attributed to them.
On Tuesday, the automaker submitted to the government the results of an internal investigation that found workers and managers knowingly and systematically had filed away consumer complaints about auto defects since 1977.
U.S. auto safety officials have asked Mitsubishi to vouch for the quality of cars it sold in the United States, where about 45,000 of the cars affected by the recent recalls were shipped.