General Motors has hired Jenner & Block LLP Chairman Anton Valukas to assist in leading an internal investigation of the automaker’s ignition switch recall affecting 1.36 million vehicles that’s tied to at least 13 deaths.
According to a GM statement, the investigation will be led by Chicago-based Valukas and GM General Counsel Michael Millikin, and will focus on the handling of the flaw that prompted the recall. GM also said that attorneys from the law firm King & Spalding are part of the team handling the inquiry.
Valukas, 70, previously served as an examiner appointed by the U.S. Justice Department overseeing the downfall of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. He was also the U.S. attorney in Chicago from 1985 to 1989 and the special counsel to the City of Chicago responsible for investigating the city’s healthcare system. In 1993, Valukas served as chairman of the Illinois Governor’s Task Force on Crime and Corrections, which resulted in prison reform legislation, according to his firm’s website.
“He sounds like a good choice because he has prosecutorial experience and has done other outside controversial investigations,” said Joan Claybrook, a former administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and longtime consumer advocate. Claybrook has been critical about how GM handled the recall.
The son of a judge, Valukas also has prior experience with General Motors. He represented GM’s bankrupt assets during a four-year investigation of accounting related to the company’s pensions by the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission. The investigation came to an end without any allegations against the client.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requested information via a 107-question inquiry about the steps GM took that led to the recall.