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Hyundai engine fires: Standard award for whistleblower

Hyundai engine fires: Standard award for whistleblower

The US Highway Safety Agency (NHTSA) first awarded the whistleblower award, allocating the legally allowed maximum of $24 million to a former Hyundai employee who spoke out about safety issues in the engines of the South Korean manufacturer’s cars.

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“NHTSA will pay the whistleblower more than $24 million in connection with information provided to the agency regarding Hyundai Motor America (Hyundai) and Kia Motors America (Kia),” the agency said in a report in a press release Tuesday.

“This award is the maximum permitted by law,” the agency said. The $24 million corresponds to the regulatory cap of 30% of the fines the South Korean manufacturer paid to the US government in this case.

The former employee had provided information about safety violations in the manufacture of Theta II engines. These engines were exposed to unexpected fires and in 2020, the manufacturer recalled about 1.6 million cars of the two brands without reporting “important information” to the security agency.

The group and its subsidiary Kia were forced to pay $210 million in fines, including $81 million in cash to the government. Based on 81 million, whistleblowers received the maximum amount of 30%, or $24 million.

“Whistleblowers play an important role in providing information to NHTSA on serious security issues hidden within the agency,” said Dr. Stephen Cliff, NHTSA Deputy Director. “This information is essential to public safety and we are committed to rewarding those who provide us with information,” he added.