July 24, 2014 at 10:20 pm

GM: 45 state AGs investigating ignition recalls

General Motors Co. disclosed Thursday that 45 state attorneys general are investigating the Detroit automaker’s recall of 2.6 million vehicles linked to at least 13 deaths and 54 crashes.

The Detroit automaker hadn’t previously disclosed how many attorneys general were investigating; many press reports said there were more than a dozen.

GM previously said it had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in New York and disclosed the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating. GM notes the probes “could in the future result in the imposition of material damages, fines or civil and criminal penalties.”

GM CEO Mary Barra, when asked last week if any GM executives have met with federal prosecutors, said she hasn’t met with them prosecutors or spoken to the grand jury.

The Detroit News and other outlets reported that prosecutors had reached out to some current and former GM executives in recent weeks as the investigation moves ahead. Prosecutors are looking at whether GM committed wire fraud in misleading federal safety regulators and bankruptcy fraud by failing to disclose the defects before its 2009 Chapter 11 restructuring.

Transport Canada, an auto safety agency, also is looking into the callback.

GM estimated the cost of fixing the 2.6 million vehicles for ignition switch and cylinder problems at $680 million, along with roughly $100 million in legal expenses connected to the ignition recall investigation. It’s not clear how much of that is related to former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas’ internal investigation that reviewed 41 million pages of records and conducted hundreds of interviews, but GM officials have said the Valukas team at Jenner & Block had an “unlimited budget” to conduct its investigation over a 70-day period.

GM also disclosed it faces at least 95 U.S. class-action lawsuits related to the ignition recall, along with eight in Canada, and 26 suits claiming deaths or injuries related to ignition issues.

dshepardson@detroitnews.com