Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Catonsville, Md.
Police arrest 7 former Mitsubishi executives
It just won't stop will it ?
Reuters / May 06, 2004
TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japanese police on Thursday arrested seven former Mitsubishi Motors Corp. executives suspected of professional negligence and falsifying reports about a faulty truck hub blamed for one death and dozens of accidents, media said.
Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp, an unlisted truckmaker owned 65 percent by DaimlerChrysler AG and 20 percent by Mitsubishi Motors, admitted in March that a design defect had been responsible for more than 50 truck accidents since 1992 and recalled 112,000 trucks in Japan.
Until then, it had blamed improper maintenance by users for the wheel hub problems.
The case comes at a bad time for Mitsubishi Motors, which is struggling to revive itself after its biggest shareholder, DaimlerChrysler, refused to offer it further financial support.
The incident is also expected to damage Mitsubishi's brand image, already tainted by a similar recall scandal four years ago when an insider's tip revealed the automaker had been hiding customer complaints illegally for more than two decades.
Mitsubishi Motors eventually recalled more than 2 million vehicles and was fined $36,790, the maximum penalty available.
A spokesman at the Kanagawa prefectural police confirmed the arrest of seven former executives but declined to identify them or say why they were being held. Local media said former Fuso chairman Takashi Usami, who resigned last month, was among the seven.
A spokesman for DaimlerChrysler said no current or former DaimlerChrysler employees were among those arrested. Mitsubishi Fuso's current CEO is Wilfried Porth, a former DaimlerChrysler executive.
DaimlerChrysler has spent about $1.26 billion for its controlling stake in Mitsubishi Fuso, which was formed from the spinoff of Mitsubishi Motors' truck and bus operations in March 2003. Daimler bought a 43 percent stake at that time and another 22 percent earlier this year.
The profitable Japanese truckmaker remains a key part of DaimlerChrysler's Asian strategy, despite the German automaker's retreat from Mitsubishi Motors.
Japan's Transport Ministry separately filed a criminal complaint with the police against Mitsubishi Motors and five former and current executives involved in the incident for falsifying reports.
"It is truly regrettable that Mitsubishi Motors has committed the same crime despite having been prosecuted and punished in 2000 for filing false reports," Land and Transport Minister Nobuteru Ishihara said in a statement.
"They falsified the reports to escape recalling the vehicles, and that is an extremely evil act," he added.
Police raided Fuso's headquarters in connection with the accident in 2002 that killed a woman and injured her two sons. The three were hit by a wheel that came loose from a Fuso truck.
"We deeply regret this third search, (but) we are fully cooperating with the investigations," Fuso said in a statement.
The company declined further comment, but a spokesman said Fuso Chairman Michio Hori and Mitsubishi Motors Chairman and President Yoichiro Okazaki would hold a news conference to brief on the arrests and related matters.
Kyodo news agency said police also planned to file criminal charges against Mitsubishi Motors on suspicion of failing to carry out adequate safety measures to prevent the fatal accident.