Japan's Kobe Steel may find more data fabrication cases

Kobe Steel Chairman

The latest company to comment on its links to Kobe, Ford Motor Co., said Friday it used aluminum from the company in its Mondeo auto hoods in China, although it hasn't confirmed whether the parts were compromised.

Kobe's admission of misconduct in its steel business, which accounts for about a third of revenue, ratchets up the pressure on Japan's third-biggest steelmaker.

Beyond automakers and trains, Kobe Steel has also been implicated in fabricating data for aerospace and defense-related products. Falsified aluminum was shipped to more than 30 overseas firms including Tesla Inc., Daimler AG, PSA Group Ltd., Boeing Co., Airbus SE and General Electric Co., the Nikkei reported Friday, without saying where it obtained the information.

"Boeing has been working closely and continuously with our suppliers since being notified of the issue to ensure timely and appropriate action, including comprehensive inspections and analysis throughout our supply chain", the company said in an email.

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.

Subaru has also confirmed that it bought affected products.

Kobe Steel shares were down 8.5 percent at 0030 GMT after stabilising on Thursday to close slightly higher. Kobe Steel's president, Hiroya Kawasaki, bowed deeply in a formal apology, lamenting that "Trust in our company has dropped to zero". They had fallen almost 40 percent in the previous two days, wiping about $1.6 billion off the company's market value.

The fallout will likely continue. Such are its establishment bona fides that Shinzo Abe, the prime minister and scion of a political dynasty, worked at the company decades ago before entering politics.

Kobe Steel said the falsification of quality data "has brought overwhelming shame to the company".

Previous cases in Japan involving falsified data included Nissan Motor (7201.T), Mitsubishi Motors (7211.T) and Takata, which filed for bankruptcy this year over faulty airbags that were blamed for 17 deaths and scores of injuries. The company's disclosures had up until now dealt with aluminum, copper and iron ore products used in everything from cars to computer hard drives to Japan's iconic bullet trains, although there haven't been any reports of products being recalled or safety concerns raised.

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