Kobe Steel confirms data tampering in iron powder products, research unit

Kobe Steel confirms data tampering in iron powder products, research unit

Toyota, Mazda and General Motors are among the firms affected.

Shares in Kobe Steel fell by almost 40% in two days, wiping more than $1.5bn (£1.1bn) off its market value after the firm admitted fabricating data about the strength and durability of products it delivered to more than 200 companies.

Late on Wednesday it said it had found 70 cases of tampering with data on materials used in optical disks and liquid crystal displays at its Kobelco Research Institute Inc, which makes and tests products for the company. Our investigation concerns whether Kobe Steel has violated the federal securities laws and/or engaged in other unlawful business practices.

Earlier the company said that in the year up to August 31 it had sold materials such as aluminum flat-rolled products, aluminum extrusions, copper strips, copper tubes and aluminum castings and forgings using falsified data on such things as the products' strength.

On Wednesday fresh revelations showed data fabrication at the steelmaker was more widespread than it initially said, as the company joins a list of Japanese manufacturers that have admitted to similar misconduct in recent years.

Investors have also rushed to unload Kobe Steel's bonds, causing the extra yield demanded to hold the securities over Japanese government notes to jump. Deputy chief cabinet secretary Kotaro Nogami said the faked data undermined the basis of fair trade, calling it "inappropriate".

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MHI said Kobe Steel products were used on its Mitsubishi Regional Jet and rockets, including a H-2A rocket launched on Tuesday to put a navigation satellite into orbit. "As hoods are related to pedestrian safety, we are working to quickly assess any potential impact on vehicle functionality".

Companies from Japan and overseas are investigating whether safety of their products has been compromised.

It was unclear if the total of 40,900 tons of products involved included shipments to other countries. "But we are still investigating and it's premature to say if recalls will be necessary". Toyota said it uses materials from Kobe in bonnets, rear doors and other vehicle parts.

U.S. plane manufacturer Boeing also said it had not found any safety issues.

Boeing said in a statement it was working "with our suppliers since being notified of the issue". In one of the largest, auto parts maker Takata Corp. has paid $1 billion in penalties for concealing an air bag defect blamed for at least 19 deaths worldwide. At this point, we don't see a critical problem as we have our own safety inspection on materials we use.

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