By on April 19, 2010

Toyota Motor Corp. has agreed to pay a $16.4 million civil fine levied by the U.S. government, reports The Nikkei [sub]. They will not admit any wrongdoing and can claim that they never admitted to knowingly hiding defects from regulators, said a senior U.S. Transportation Department official. On Friday, it wasn’t clear whether the DOT would accept the dough with a deal attached.

The agreement should be papered as you read this, early Monday, and Toyota will have 30 days to fork over the funds.

Although there will be no admission of guilt, the DOT has no doubts about the whodunit: According to the Nikkei, the DOT still maintains that the auto maker knowingly hid a “sticky pedal” defect in certain models for at least four months, before agreeing to a recall earlier this year.”

“By paying the full civil penalty, Toyota is accepting responsibility for hiding this safety defect from NHTSA in violation of the law,” a senior DOT official said. Ah, the fine nuances of the law.

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