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By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON, Jan 13 (Reuters) - A federal grand jury indicted three former executives at Takata Corp for criminal wrongdoing in the Japanese auto parts maker's handling of air bag inflator ruptures linked to at least 16 deaths around the world.
Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima and Tsuneo Chikaraishi, longtime Takata executives who left the company in 2015, were indicted on wire fraud and conspiracy charges for allegedly convincing automakers to buy "faulty, inferior, non-performing, non-compliant or dangerous inflators" through false reports.
The indictment, unsealed on Friday, says Takata executives knew in 2000 that the inflators were not performing to automakers specifications and were failing during testing.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade in Detroit will hold a press conference to announce a settlement in the case at 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT), her office said in a statement. Reuters reported on Thursday that Takata was expected to plead guilty to criminal wrongdoing as part of a $1 billion deal with the U.S. Justice Department. The settlement includes a $25 million criminal fine, $125 million in victim compensation and $850 million to compensate automakers who have suffered losses from massive recalls, sources with knowledge of the matter said.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit said it is not clear where the defendants are or if they have lawyers. They do not currently have a court date.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Tom Brown