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US seeks $16m fine from Toyota

The US government is seeking a record penalty from the Japanese automaker for deliberately hiding in

The National Highways Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the company has been aware of the accelerator pedal problem since September 2009. Although Toyota issued repair procedures to its distributors in Europe and Canada, it took no action in the US.

Ray LaHood, the US Transportation Secretary, said it was clear from Toyota's internal communication documents that the company knew of the problem but did not issue a recall until January.

Automakers have to notify the NHTSA within five business days about safety problems under the US law. The fine is the largest-ever civil penalty against a car company in the US. Toyota has two weeks to appeal against the penalty.