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Public prosecutors on Wednesday filed summary indictments against Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and its four top executives over the systematic coverup in 1999 of customer complaints about defective vehicles.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office filed the indictments against MMC as a corporate body and individually against its four top executives, including former vice presidents Hikoichi Motoyama, 64, and Satoru Toyama, 62, prosecutors said.

They are charged with violating the Road Trucking Vehicle Law by making false reports to the former Transport Ministry, which has since amalgamated into the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry.

This is the first criminal case brought against an auto manufacturer since the current recall system was introduced in 1969. Under a summary indictment, the accused does not have to face a court hearing or prison sentence.

Prosecutors are seeking fines of 400,000 yen for the company and of 200,000 yen each for the four officials. The court is expected to issue a ruling in the near future, investigators said.

While papers on five other MMC officials were sent to prosecutors in February on suspicion of systematic concealment of customer complaints and vehicles defects, the office decided not to indict them as they only played minor roles in the case, the prosecutors said.

According to the indictment, MMC concealed customer complaints necessitating recalls from ministry officials during on-site inspections in March and November 1999.

Only customer complaints that did not require recalls were shown, the indictment said.

MMC hid 4,405 complaints, or 98 percent of those it should have revealed, in the March 1999 inspection. In November, it concealed 5,952, or 90 percent, the indictment said.

MMC officials said the company “deeply regrets and takes seriously” the indictments and will make efforts to restore confidence as early as possible.

The company had dual in-house manuals comprising “P information” to be presented to the ministry and “H information” to be kept secret.

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