Toyota said on Feb. 22 a U.S. federal grand jury had subpoenaed documents on defects that triggered safety recalls of more than eight million cars, in a move that could see the firm facing criminal charges.
Under the U.S. legal system, grand juries review evidence to determine whether there is probable cause for an indictment leading to a trial.
"The U.S. Federal Grand Jury of the southern district of New York issued a subpoena on February 8 to our company and affiliates for documents related to the braking system of the Prius and malfunctions of accelerators," said the world's largest automaker in a statement.
The Japanese giant has come under fire for flaws in accelerator and brake systems on its vehicles and has battled accusations that it dragged its feet in notifying U.S. authorities and the public about the problems.
"Our company and subsidiaries are ready to sincerely cooperate with the investigations by the authorities and are currently preparing a response to them," said the company in a statement.
Toyota said in the Japanese language statement on the Tokyo Stock Exchange website it had received a request late last week from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the body that regulates stock exchanges and the securities industry, to submit similar documents.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010
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