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Hyundai Motors and Kia Motors – Concealing safety defects ($210 million)

Constantine Cannon represented whistleblower Gwang Ho Kim, a former engineer at Hyundai who exposed Hyundai and Kia’s efforts to deceive U.S. vehicle safety regulators about safety defects affecting engines in millions of vehicles.  Hyundai and Kia agreed to pay combined penalties of $81 million (and up to $210 million), the largest penalties safety regulators have ever assessed against a carmaker, in connection with the misconduct Kim exposed. Kim’s $24.3 million award is first-ever monetary award made under the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act, which creates a whistleblower reward program to pay awards to auto-industry insiders who provide information to safety regulators about defects in vehicles. Under the program, auto-industry whistleblowers—who, like Kim, may be anywhere in the world—can protect the public by bringing to regulators critical information about disastrous safety defects. Read more: Award Press Release; Whistleblower Insider; NHTSA

Takata - Auto Safety ($1 billion)

Two former Takata employees, Mark Lillie and another man who chose to remain anonymous, provided extensive assistance to the U.S. government in its criminal case against Takata, the maker of defective airbags which exploded and claimed the lives of 22 people and set off a worldwide recall of nearly 100 million airbag inflators.  In January 2017, Takata pled guilty to wire fraud and agreed to pay $1 billion in criminal penalties stemming from the company’s fraudulent conduct in relation to sales of defective airbag inflators. The criminal action also resulted in three high-level Takata executives pleading guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy charges. The awards to the whistleblowers were the first ever made under the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act, a federal whistleblower-reward program.  Read more here.