Obama Cracking Down on Firms in His Final Days

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The Obama administration in its waning days is taking companies to task in a way that it generally did not in its early years, the Washington Post reports. It is getting corporations to plead guilty and charging executives in connection with crimes. Today, the Justice Department is expected to announce that Takata will plead guilty to criminal misconduct related to the installation of faulty air bags in tens of millions of cars. The move follows the arrest of a high-ranking Volkswagen executive last weekend and an admission of guilt by the automaker to criminal wrongdoing. Six executives were indicted this week on charges including defrauding the government and violating environmental regulations.

Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency accused Fiat Chrysler of installing software that enabled 104,000 diesel-engine vehicles to emit far more pollutants than emissions laws allow. The charges echo Volkswagen’s scandal, though the extent of criminal wrongdoing remains unclear. Fiat Chrysler says the software, the use of which was not disclosed to the EPA, meets necessary regulations. In its early years, the Obama presidency was grappling with the collapse of big financial firms, whose behavior almost toppled the global economy. Hardly any executive of a global bank faced criminal charges, though the lack of prosecutions may have been in part because proving criminal intent in the trading of complex financial instruments is difficult.

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