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WASHINGTON (TIP): Fiat Chrysler to pay $70 million auto safety fineINGTON: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV has agreed to pay $70 million in fines to resolve a US investigation that it failed to disclose vehicle crash death and injury reports, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

The settlement is expected to be announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as early as Thursday. Fiat Chrysler in September acknowledged it had failed to disclose an unspecified number of reports that are required to be submitted to regulators under a 2000 law. NHTSA in September called Fiat Chrysler’s reporting omissions a “significant failure.”

In July, the automaker reached a separate $105 million settlement with NHTSA over its handling of nearly two dozen recalls covering 11 million vehicles.

Major auto companies are required to electronically submit massive amounts of data involving vehicle crashes, deaths, lawsuits, warranty claims and other information.

This is the latest fine imposed by the US auto safety agency after it came under harsh criticism from Congress and in a government audit for not being more aggressive in enforcing safety laws.

In a new highway funding law, Congress agreed to give NHTSA more funding if it implements more reforms outlined by the Transportation Department inspector general.

NHTSA fined Japanese manufacturer Takata Corp. $70 million last month for failing to promptly disclose defects in millions of airbags.

Fiat Chrysler told NHTSA earlier this year it had problems with its software for extracting information from a company database to submit to NHTSA, and as a result significantly under-reported death and injury claims. There is no indication that Fiat Chrysler intentionally hid the reports and no suggestion that NHTSA failed to discover safety defects because of the missing reports.

Fiat Chrysler said in September “it takes this issue extremely seriously, and will continue to cooperate with NHTSA to resolve this matter and ensure these issues do not re-occur.”

NHTSA and Fiat Chrysler declined to comment on Wednesday. The sources asked not to be identified because the settlement had yet to be made public.

The early warning reports are required under the 2000 law passed by Congress after more than 270 people were killed in rollover crashes in Ford Explorers with faulty tires. The law is aimed at helping regulators spot safety defect trends earlier.


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