Sen. Richard Blumenthal has called on the Departments of Justice and Transportation to investigate the Japanese company Kobe Steel for alleged failures to perform mandatory quality checks and data falsification.
In a letter to the two departments, the Connecticut Democrat accused Kobe Steel of providing substandard aluminum, copper and steel to about 500 companies, including six automakers, which have left consumers at risk of serious and potentially life-threatening equipment defects.
In his letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Blumenthal wrote, “The recent allegations against Kobe Steel clearly seem to fit a pattern of illegal business practices, and I am pleased that the department has already initiated requests for information from Kobe Steel. I urge you to direct the department to conduct a swift and thorough investigation into any civil or criminal wrongdoing by the company. The DOJ has a duty to protect American companies and their customers from such intentional and fraudulent deception.”
Blumenthal also urged Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to launch a second investigation into the company.
“I urge you to also request information and launch an investigation so that your department can evaluate whether Kobe Steel’s concealment has compromised our transportation systems,” he wrote, adding that Chao’s department “has a duty to protect all passengers – whether traveling by car, air, or rail – from the safety consequences of such intentional and fraudulent deception.”
On its website today, Kobelco, Kobe Steel’s global brand, posted this statement under the heading “We are extremely sorry for our improper conduct”:
“At this time, we sincerely and deeply apologize for the enormous amount of worry and trouble we have caused many of you in respect to the improper conduct concerning a portion of our products made by our company and group companies.
The Kobe Steel Group, together with its suppliers, is quickly working to determine how its products have affected safety and other factors. We are thoroughly analyzing the cause and are engaged in developing countermeasures to prevent a reoccurrence from happening. We are making sincere efforts to eliminate the burden on all parties concerned and to resolve these problems as quickly as possible.