Employees at embattled airbag maker Takata, which was fined earlier this month in the United States for providing inaccurate information on airbag safety devices, warned of evasive practices as early as 2000, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The manufacturer is at the heart of a vast international scandal over a defect that causes airbags to deploy with explosive force and send metal shrapnel hurtling toward drivers and passengers. The defect is responsible for the death of eight people — seven in the United States — and has injured hundreds.
Now it appears employees in the United States had warned of company transgressions as early as 15 years ago.
A WSJ report published Tuesday said that Takata employees had complained that the company hid testing failures and falsified data in reports to its largest customer, Honda, concerning some airbag inflators.
Citing documents, the Journal reported that Takata employees voiced concerns throughout the 2000s — particularly one U.S. engineer who accused the company of "prettying up" data in a practice that "has gone beyond all reasonable bounds and now most likely constitutes fraud."
Takata acknowledged the concealment but told the Journal that the instances were not related to the airbag explosions.
Earlier this month, U.S. safety authorities announced up to $200 million in penalties imposed on Takata for providing inadequate and inaccurate information, accusing the company of dodging the issue for years.
Honda also announced that it had decided to cease use of Takata's airbag inflators, with Toyota and Nissan following suit, and Ford joining in just Tuesday.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015