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Former FBI Director Overseeing Takata Victims Fund

GM fund manager Feinberg was expected to handle.

by on Apr.07, 2017

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller III will oversee the disbursement of funds from the $1 billion Takata restitution funds.

When Takata agreed to form $1 billion restitution fund for victims of its faulty airbags, it was almost assumed that Kenneth Feinberg would oversee the disbursement of those funds. He’d handled it for General Motors and several other high profile funds.

However, U.S. District Judge George Steeh in Detroit appears set to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller III to oversee the fund. The court appointed Mueller, who headed the FBI during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as special master in the high-profile case.

The Last Word!

Steeh apparently liked Mueller’s qualifications, in particular the fact he was settlement master in the Volkswagen diesel emissions case. Feinberg, who also oversaw compensation for 9/11 victims, was considered.

Mueller, a partner in the law firm of WilmerHale in Washington, D.C., was chosen over Feinberg despite some parties expressing a preference for Feinberg.

(Takata pleads guilty, setting up victims fund. Click Here for the story.)

“In the end, the court determines that Mr. Mueller is the best candidate for the position, based in part on the parties’ support of his appointment, as well as the court’s comfort and trust in his impeccable credentials, his relevant experience in settlement negotiations, his familiarity with the automotive industry in general, and based upon his well-known reputation for integrity,” Steeh said in his order.

Kenneth Feinberg was initially expected to oversee the Takata fund.

Mueller will be in charge of recommending to the court which individuals and entities should receive restitution and the restitution amounts, according to USA Today.

Tokyo-based Takata pleaded guilty in February in federal court in Detroit to fraud charges. In addition to the restitution fund, it paid a $25 million criminal fine for its faulty airbag ignitors. The airbags would explode with too much force, spewing metal and plastic pieces into the cabin of a vehicle.

(Another Takata recall impacts 13 automakers. Click Here for the latest.)

Hundreds have been injured and at least 16 people have died worldwide. It trigged the largest recall action in the world, affecting more than 40 million vehicles in the U.S. produced by 12 automakers.

Takata officials expressed the company’s “deep regret” the day of the guilty plea. They also admitted knowing about the problems for more than 10 years and manipulating testing data to help keep the problem hidden.

“The conduct leading to today’s plea was completely unacceptable,” said Yoichiro Nomura, Takata’s chief financial officer. “I would like to sincerely apologize on behalf of Takata. The actions of certain Takata employees to undermine the integrity of the company’s testing data and reporting to customers were deeply inappropriate.”

(To see more about another record year of recalls in the U.S., Click Here.)

The recall ensured a third consecutive year of record numbers of recalls in the U.S. for the the automotive industry. The U.S. Department of Transportation revealed automakers recalled a record high 53.2 million vehicles in 2016 in the United States. The largest portion coming as a result of the expansion of the Takata airbag inflator recall.

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