GM to pay $1 million to SEC for ignition switch 'accounting control failures'

It was able to resolve the SEC complaint without admitting or denying guilt.

Raymond Boyd, Getty Images

Try to cook the books in any way, and the Securities and Exchange Commission will come down hard. GM is paying a fine to the SEC not for cooking the books, but for an alleged issue stemming from its ignition switch scandal.

General Motors and the SEC announced today that it resolved a charge of "accounting control failures." The automaker will pay a $1 million penalty without "admitting or denying any wrongdoing," per a GM statement. This fine only relates to the problems with the SEC and is not related to the rest of its ignition switch recall.

Here's what went wrong: The SEC found that GM didn't approach its accountants regarding potential recall-related losses until November 2013, despite GM employees knowing since 2012 that its faulty ignition switches could cause a problem. That affects the company's financial statements during that time, which is why the SEC swooped in.

GM found itself in some real hot water when it first issued a recall for 800,000 cars in 2014 for faulty ignition switches that could potentially move from "On" to "Off," which had the potential for disabling airbags in a moving vehicle. The recall eventually affected about 30 million cars worldwide, and it was discovered that GM knew about the problem for roughly a decade prior to the initial recall. Whoops.

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