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In this Nov. 5, 2010 file released by the Utah Highway Patrol, a Toyota Camry is shown after it crashed as it left Interstate 80 in Wendover, Utah.

Toyota to pay $1.2 billion over safety issues

WASHINGTON – The U.S. has reached a $1.2 billion settlement with Toyota Motor Corp. and filed a criminal charge alleging the Japanese automaker defrauded consumers by issuing misleading statements about safety issues in Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

Under the agreement, announced Wednesday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the company will admit that it misled U.S. consumers by making deceptive statements about two safety issues affecting its vehicles. As a result, Toyota will pay a $1.2 billion financial penalty under a “deferred prosecution agreement.”

It is the largest penalty of its kind imposed on an automotive company by the U.S., Holder said.

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