Former U.S. Attorney Tapped for Toyota Safety Monitor Role

Aug 13, 2014 4:39 am ET

(Updates with spokesman in second paragraph.)

Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Former U.S. Attorney David Kelley has been appointed as the government monitor who will supervise Toyota Motor Corp.’s safety after the company’s mishandling of vehicle recalls for unintended acceleration.

Keisuke Kirimoto, a spokesman for Toyota City, Japan-based Toyota, confirmed the U.S. Justice Department’s appointment of Kelley. The carmaker expects to have a “a cooperative and constructive working relationship with Mr. Kelley,” he said.

Kelley, a New York-based partner at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, will review Toyota’s policies, safety procedures and verify the accuracy of its public statements. The monitor position is part of a settlement in March, whereby Toyota paid a record $1.2 billion penalty and admitted it misled U.S. consumers in 2009 and 2010 about problems with its cars over sudden, unintended acceleration.

The appointment comes as the Justice Department and Congress investigate General Motors Co. for its handling of defective ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths. GM has called back about 29 million vehicles in North America this year, a record.

For Toyota, the recalls blemished its reputation for quality and led to the company losing its title as the world’s top-selling automaker to GM. Toyota regained the industry lead in each of the last two years and clung to a slim lead over Volkswagen AG through the first half of 2014.

The Detroit News reported Kelley’s appointment earlier today.