The U.S. DOJ just appointed Bart Schwartz to be GM’s monitor overseeing the automaker’s safety efforts in the wake of the ignition switch scandal. The refreshing difference between this appointment and NHTSA’s appointment of Rodney Slater as FCA’s monitor is that Schwartz is actually independent. He comes to the post with no conflicts of interest.
It seems to be the week for automakers to get babysitters, er, monitors for their recall efforts. GM just got theirs, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice. Bart Schwartz will oversee GM’s safety efforts.
Unlike Fiat Chrysler’s monitor Rodney Slater, Schwartz comes to his post with no conflicts of interest. He’s a former federal prosecutor and the current chair of Guidepost Solutions, a self-described “global leader in monitoring, compliance, international investigations, and risk management solutions.”
Imagine that! A real independent monitor! Are you taking notes FCA & NHTSA?
GM gets a monitor as part of the $900M deferred prosecution settlement that was reached last month in the criminal investigation of the delayed recall of defective ignition switches. There were 124 deaths as a result of the delay.
Schwartz has an outstanding track record (which does not include lobbying congress on behalf of GM suppliers). He’s a New York lawyer who served under the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Rudolph Giuliani. He’s also monitored compliance and risk management for several companies that were in deep legal trouble. Among his former assignments are monitoring SAC Capital Advisors’ trading procedures and, in 2010, Deutsche Bank’s fraudulent tax shelter issues.
Craig Glidden, GM executive VP and general counsel, issued a statement saying, “We welcome Bart Schwartz and his insights, and we pledge our full cooperation and the same transparency and candor that has guided our response to the ignition switch recall.”
The New York Times has described Schwartz as the one whom businesses “often sought out in thorny situations.”
This is a good thing for GM. The ignition switch scandal has not only garnered the automaker a ton of bad press and the attention of the DOJ, it’s racked up considerable expenses:
- The recent settlement with the DOJ: $900M
- The Kenneth Feinberg GM Ignition Compensation Fund for other settlements: $625M
- Other settlements in 1,380 civil suits over several recalls: $575M
- NHTSA fines for not timely reporting the ignition switch defect: $35M
- Unknown legal fees
That’s a grand total (so far) of over $2.14B.