U.S. auto safety regulator awards US$24 million to Hyundai whistleblower
Kim Gwang-ho filled in the NHTSA on safety lapses inside the South Korean automaker
The U.S. auto safety regulator announced on Tuesday its first-ever reward to a whistleblower, handing out more than US$24 million to a former Hyundai employee who provided key information about safety lapses at the South Korean carmaker.
The award to ex-Hyundai Motor engineer Kim Gwang-ho is the biggest ever in a whistleblower case in the auto sector globally, according to law firm Constantine Cannon, which represented Kim.
It comes as the U.S. regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the U.S. Department of Transportation prepare to propose regulations related to an automotive whistleblower program Congress created in 2015.
Citing an internal report from Hyundai’s quality strategy team to management, Kim had told NHTSA the company was not taking enough action to address an engine fault that increased the risk of crashes.
NHTSA found that Hyundai and its Kia subsidiary had delayed recalling affected vehicles, and that the automaker had provided inaccurate information about the problems.