General Motors hired the former U.S. Attorney who probed the Lehman Bros. collapse to lead GM's internal investigation into how decisions were made at GM that resulted in continuing to use a faulty ignition switch now blamed for 13 deaths.
GM said Monday that the probe is being jointly run by Tony Valukas, chairman of the law firm, Jenner & Block, and by GM's General Counsel, Michael Millikin.
Valukas led the government's investigation of the 2008 collapse of Lehman. GM says attorneys from the law firm King & Spalding also are part of the team conducting the investigation. The involvement of an outsider and his firm with GM's probe of its own people and processes is meant to signal that the company is serious about the investigation.
HOUSE COMMITTEE: Looking into recall delay
GM CEO Mary Barra has promised the internal review will "give us an unvarnished report on what happened" and has said "we will hold ourselves accountable." GM in February recalled more than 1.6 million cars worldwide for the switch issue, 1.37 million of them in the U.S.
GM RECALL: Families plunge back into grief
GM's recall is because front airbags might not inflate in a crash if potentially faulty ignition switches move from the normal "run" position into "accessory," shutting off the engine.
Recalled Feb. 13: 619,122 of the 2005 to 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007 Pontiac G5 compacts. Added to the U.S. recall Feb. 25: 748,024 of GM's 2003-07 Saturn Ion, 2006-07 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-07 Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky vehicles.
Documents in a now-settled case against GM show that the automaker knew in 2004 that Cobalt switches could move out of "run" inadvertently. NHTSA commissioned three special investigations involving the Cobalt and Ion in 2005, 2006, and 2007, and told GM in 2007 it knew of fatalities, but did not order a recall.
GM begins notifying owners this week that their vehicles are included in the recall. Dealers begin getting new ignition switches next month and will install them once inventories are built up.