GM, Justice Department near criminal settlement over faulty ignition switches

GM victim: I was robbed of a part of my life
GM victim: I was robbed of a part of my life

The U.S. Department of Justice is expected to announce a criminal settlement with General Motors, in which the automaker will acknowledge it misled the government and public over faulty ignition switches that have been tied to at least 100 fatalities.

The settlement, which was confirmed by law enforcement officials, could come as soon as Thursday, but will not be official until accepted by a judge.

GM (GM), the nation's largest automaker, has recalled millions of cars and trucks in recent years to repair the faulty ignition switches. The flaw could make the cars shut off while being driven, which could disable safety features including airbags, anti-lock brakes or power steering.

Related: GM ignition switch death toll reaches 100

GM has previously admitted that its employees were wrong to delay issuing a recall for about a decade after problems with the ignition switch were first discovered. GM CEO Mary Barra termed the delay a "fundamental failure" after a probe found "a pattern of incompetence and neglect" through the company.

GM's compensation fund has cost the company at least $150 million. The total cost of recalls, including repairs expenses, came to $4.1 billion last year, according to the company.

A spokesman for GM declined to comment Wednesday when asked about the settlement.

The Justice Department said earlier this month that it would try harder to hold company executives responsible for corporate crimes, following criticism that the department has been soft on Wall Street by relying on financial fines to settle investigations of corporate wrongdoing.

-- Peter Valdes-Dapena contributed reporting.

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