Hyundai Whistleblower Receives $24 Million
Nov. 12, 2021—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded its first-ever reward to a whistleblower, handing out more than $24 million to a former Hyundai Motor employee who provided key information about safety lapses at the South Korean carmaker, Reuters reported.
The award to ex-Hyundai Motor engineer Kim Gwang-ho is the biggest ever in a whistleblower case in the auto sector globally, according to law firm Constantine Cannon, which represented Kim.
Kim reported to NHTSA in 2016 that Hyundai was failing to address a design flaw linked to its Theta II engines, which were prone to seizing up and even catching fire.
"This award is the maximum percentage allowed by law," NHTSA said in a statement announcing the award.
NHTSA found that Hyundai and its Kia subsidiary had delayed recalling affected vehicles, and that the automaker had provided inaccurate information about the problems.
The payout to Kim is the first under the U.S.Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act, passed by Congress in 2015 to create a whistleblower reward program in the Department of Transportation for industry insiders who provide information to safety regulators about defects in vehicles.