NEW YORK, April 19 (AFP) - Japanese auto giant Toyota has agreed to pay the US government a fine of nearly 16.4 million dollars for concealing gas pedal defects, a senior US government official announced late Sunday.
"By paying the full civil penalty Toyota is accepting responsibility for hiding the safety defect... in violation of the law," the official told AFP.
Earlier this month, the US Department of Transportation said it was seeking "the maximum civil penalty of 16.375 million dollars against Toyota" after it failed to report its safety defects in a timely manner.
Toyota had failed to report "the dangerous 'sticky pedal' defect for at least four months, despite knowing of the potential risk to consumers," said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the department's watchdog.
It is the largest civil fine against an automaker ever sought by the NHTSA.
Toyota has recalled around 2.3 million cars in the United States for the pedal defect.
Worldwide it has recalled more than eight million cars worldwide over several problems, including the sticking accelerator pedal which caused cars to speed out of control.
Toyota had until Monday to agree to pay the fine, or contest it. If the two parties had not agreed a settlement, the matter could have gone to court.