False data scandal at Kobe extends to steel

13 October, 2017, 01:02 | Author: Becky Perry
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                                                            |By Yuka Obayashi

Hiroya Kawasaki, president and chairman of Kobe Steel Ltd., under fire for its products inspection data falsification scandal, admitted Thursday the possibility of more related irregularities coming to light in the future.

It was unclear what the impact would be on earnings, the company said in a statement.

He promised a senior Trade Ministry official that the company, Japan's third-largest steelmaker, would provide results of safety inspections within two weeks and a report on the cause of the problem within a month.

Kobe Steel's admission this week sent shock waves through the global automotive and aerospace supply chains. Hitachi Ltd. also utilizes affected products in high-speed train cars used in Britain.

But it said most of those materials, used to deposit thin films from various materials onto components such as computer chips, were re-inspected and are thought to have met customers' specifications.

It also found one case of falsified data on iron powder products shipped to a customer.

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So far, there has been "no real change" in customer orders, and the company's procurement of aluminium and copper metal raw materials is also normal given that production is not affected, Kobe Steel spokesman Gary Tsuchida told Metal Bulletin.

Mr Tsuchida insisted that Kobe Steel was taking all necessary steps to investigate how this happened.

Honda spokesman Chris Martin didn't confirm the hood issue Bloomberg Markets reporting, stating only: "We're still in the process of evaluating any potential effect on Honda vehicles".

While there have not been any reports that Kobe Steel products posed safety risks, the company is likely to face lawsuits from investors, customers, consumers and regulators in Japan and United States, experts say. "At the same time, we are considering what measures need to be put in place going forward". Kobe's steel business would fetch roughly 200 billion yen ($1.78 billion), he said. The company said about 4% of shipments between September 2016 and August 2017 were impacted, which was discovered by what it called an "emergency quality audit", but admitted the falsifications might have occurred over a period of ten years.

They include cases of falsified data at Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors, while air bag maker Takata filed for bankruptcy in June over faulty airbags which were blamed for several deaths and many injuries. That company's reputation was hammered earlier by a massive, systematic and decades-long cover-up of defects that surfaced in the early 2000s.

Planes, trains and automobiles - Kobe Steel's fake product data scandal has now touched every major form of transportation.

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