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

Kobe Steel, Ltd. (KBSTY) Rating Lowered to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

The government has asked the company to provide more information about the products supplied to more than 200 Kobe Steel customers, reportedly including some of the country's biggest manufacturers, including defense contractor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and a number of automakers.

The steelmaker admitted at the weekend it had falsified data about the quality of aluminium and copper products used in cars, aircraft, space rockets and defence equipment, a further hit to Japanese manufacturers' reputation for quality products.

The fallout has the potential to spread to hundreds of companies.

Toyota, Mazda and General Motors are among the firms affected. It is a daunting task, since multinationals source from various suppliers and producers. Kobe Steel said it had failed to carry out tests it had agreed to conduct, and improperly "rewrote" inspection data.

Honda spokesman Tamon Kusakabe said: "As to safety, we are still studying (a possible) impact". Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami on Wednesday said the faked data undermined the basis of fair trade, calling it "inappropriate". So scandal that erupted in Japan was expressed not affecting production in Gebze. It is an additional headache for Nissan, which has already announced a recall of more than a million vehicles in the domestic market over a certification issue. Mitsubishi Motors and Suzuki Motor both admitted past year that they had been exaggerating the fuel economy of their vehicles by cheating on tests.

"There were tens of employees involved". 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. Takata declared bankruptcy in June.

While there has 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 US, experts say. The changes, it said, made it look as if the products met manufacturing specifications required by customers - including for vital qualities like tensile strength, a measure of stiffness - when they did not.

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