Justice Department probing GM recalls

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There could be some legal potholes ahead for General Motors over its handling of a deadly defect in certain compact cars.

Word leaked of a criminal investigation yesterday and two congressional committees have opened probes into the matter.

The Justice Department is investigating whether GM broke any laws with its slow response to a problem with ignition switches in compact cars from model years 2003 to 2007. That's according to a person briefed on the matter. The probe is said to be handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York.

Spokesmen for the Justice Department and GM would not comment. The investigation was first reported by Bloomberg News.

At issue is why GM waited until February to recall 1.6 million older-model compact cars worldwide, even though it admitted knowing about the problem for a decade. The faulty ignition switches have been linked to 31 crashes and 13 deaths.

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