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Toyota Facing Criminal Charges; SEC Investigation

The Japanese automaker's woes expand exponentially.

by on Feb.22, 2010

Is there a "Club Fed" in TMS head Jim Lentz's future?

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) filed a document with the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) at the close of business today, informing the TSE that Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) has received a grand jury subpoena from a United States District Court to produce documents related to unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles and the braking system of the Prius.

TMC has also received a voluntary request (TMC is a Japanese company and beyond the reach of U.S. laws – so the request is “voluntary”), and TMS a legal subpoena (TMS is a U.S. company and therefore subject to U.S.  laws) from the Los Angeles office of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, seeking documents related to unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles and the company’s disclosure policies and practices.

The SEC is looking into potential securities fraud and disclosure  violation matters.

The Wheels of Justice?

TMC will formally inform stock exchange authorities in London and New York of these developments at 23:00 on February 22.

In a statement Toyota said, “TMC and TMS intend to cooperate with the investigations, and are currently preparing their responses thereto.”

TMS, of course, has no choice given the subpoena.

Toyota said it received the request from a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York on February 9,  and the SEC request on February 19.

It was not immediately clear why it took so long to make the disclosures.

The grand jury request could ultimately result in criminal charges against Toyota executives.

Toyota also faces civil penalties from an ongoing investigation for its failure to recall defective vehicles by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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