Air bag maker Takata Corp may have put profits before safety, Democrats on a U.S. Senate committee said in a report released on Monday.
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The report by the minority on the committee on commerce, science and transportation was released the day before a Washington hearing on Takata's defective inflators, which are linked to more than 100 injuries and at least eight deaths globally because of air bags that deploy with too much force and spray metal shards at passengers. The Democrats cited documents and emails obtained from Takata.
"Internal emails obtained by the committee suggest that Takata may have prioritized profit over safety by halting global safety audits for financial reasons," the Democrats said in their report.
The Democrats said company emails indicate global safety audits were halted from 2009 to 2011 "due to financial reasons."
Takata criticized the report in a statement, saying it contained "a number of inaccuracies" based on old media stories refuted by the Japanese supplier and emails taken out of context and characterized in a way that "creates a false impression."
"The global audits referenced in the emails relate to the safe handling by employees of pyrotechnic materials - they were not, as the report implies, related to product quality or safety," Takata said. "Takata conducts regular reviews of product quality and safety at Moses Lake and Monclova, and at no time were those halted."
Moses Lake is in Washington state, while Monclova is in Mexico.
A spokesman for the committee's Republican majority declined to comment on the Democratic report.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit and David Morgan in Washington. Editing by Andre Grenon)