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Toyoda to testify over safety fears as US government committee issues subponea

Toyota president and CEO Akio Toyoda (pictured) has agreed to appear before the US House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Government Reform after being summoned by committee chairman Edolphus Towns yesterday.

The fourth-generation head of the Japan-based motoring giant confirmed he will attend a hearing on 24 February to testify against allegations that the problems associated with the millions of recalls Toyota has been forced to make "may have been the direct cause of serious injury and even death."

According to Towns, there appears to be "growing public confusion regarding which vehicles may be affected and how people should respond. In short, the public is unsure as to what exactly the problem is, whether it is safe to drive their cars, or what they should do about it."

To further compound Toyoda's problems, the committee also issued a subpoena for "all documents relating to Toyota motor vehicle safety and Toyota's handling of alleged motor vehicle defects and related litigation" in the possession of Dimitrios Biller, who served as the National Managing Counsel for Toyota's US operation from 2003-2007.

According to the committee's website, news reports have surfaced regarding accusations Biller had made regarding Toyota's efforts to hide "evidence of safety defects from consumers and regulators, and fostered a culture of 'hypocrisy and deceit.'"  

Biller is quoted as saying. "You have to understand that Toyota in Japan does not have any respect for our legal system … they did not have any respect for our laws." Biller has claimed that his accusations are verifiable based on documents that are in his possession.

Toyota had filed an injunction preventing Biller from disclosing those documents, but the subpoena supersedes the injunction and Biller plans to fully cooperate with the subpoena.

Related link: Toyoda attempts to save Toyota's reputation

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