GM negotiates record fine with US justice department: Reports

General Motors is negotiating what could be a record fine with US Department of Justice following the uncovering of criminal wrongdoing in a federal investigation into a defect linked to at least 104 deaths.

According to people who The New York Times cited as familiar with the inquiry, a settlement would likely surpass the $1.2 billion paid out by Toyota over a defect which caused sudden unintended acceleration in its cars.

According to the report GM had sought to cooperate with investigators, as against Toyota, which battled prosecutors. The company could earn a "cooperation credit" for its stance on the probe.

According to the report, former GM employees including some who were fired last year, could face criminal face criminal charges even as the company itself was still negotiating exactly what misconduct it would admit to.

GM was under investigation as to why it waited for over a decade after first uncovering a deadly problem with an ignition-switch used in many of its cars to start recalling vehicles.

According to NYT, federal prosecutors in New York and the FBI were focused on whether GM breached laws requiring swift disclosure of vehicle defects and misled regulators about the extent of the problems.

A final settlement could be reached as soon as this summer and though the final number was being negotiated, it was expected to eclipse the $1.2 billion paid last year by Toyota for concealing unintended acceleration problems in its vehicles, according to the people, who did not want to be quoted because the negotiations were not complete.

''We are cooperating fully with all requests,'' the automaker said in a statement. ''We are unable to comment on the status of the investigation, including timing.''

For over a year, federal prosecutors in New York and the FBI had probed the company for any failure to comply with laws requiring timely disclosure of vehicle defects and whether federal regulators had been misled about the extent of the problems, the people who were briefed on the inquiry said.

According to commentators, an agreement with the DoJ, would mark a crucial step as GM tried to leave behind a scandal-scarred year that soiled its reputation for quality and safety and hit its bottom line.