The NHTSA has introduced its first whistleblower award. The award goes to a South Korean Hyundai engineer.
NHTSA’s duties also include forcing vehicle manufacturers to recall if there are problems with their products. Unlike in many other countries, auto manufacturers in the United States are obligated to report any problems with their vehicles to the authorities immediately. If the guidelines are ignored, severe penalties are imminent. This was felt by the airbag manufacturer Takata, which was forced to conclude a settlement of more than one billion dollars with the US authorities.
As NHTSA has now officially announced, information about possible problems with Theta II engines in about 1.6 million cars of the two brands was obtained from internal sources of the Korean automaker Hyundai / Kia, which far exceeds what the manufacturer can officially announce. As a result, NHTSA expanded the summons and imposed a $210 million fine on the automaker. In such a measure, the NHTSA can pass up to 30 percent of the penalty imposed on the guide, provided that his information resulted in a fine of more than one million euros.
Tip-takers will be rewarded proportionally
“Whistleblowers play a critical role in relaying information to NHTSA about serious security issues that the agency is not aware of,” said Stephen Cliff, associate director of the NHTSA. “This information is vital to public safety and we are committed to rewarding those who provide us with information.” NHTSA also guarantees the confidentiality of third party information. The whistleblower program was launched in 2015.
However, in the case of a Hyundai / Kia recall, it became public where the information came from. South Korean Hyundai engineer Kim Gwang-ho traveled to the US in 2016 to report engine problems to US authorities. He has now publicly thanked NHTSA for the $24 million payment. It is not known if he is still working for the car manufacturer.
The US Traffic Safety Authority rewards guides when it comes to information about recalls that manufacturers like to hide. Now, for the first time, the whistleblower has been rewarded with a whopping $24 million.
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