Toyota has settled for a fine amounting to US$180 million (RM728 million) for the late filing of emissions-related defect reports to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States, Reuters reported.

According to the report, the Japanese manufacturer first revealed in 2016 that it was under investigation for the delayed reporting, and the United States Justice Department had not confirmed the investigation previously until its announcement last Thursday by the United States Attorney’s Office that the government had filed a civil lawsuit against the automaker.

The Justice Department announced the settlement at the same time, which also requires Toyota to submit semi-annual compliance reports, said Reuters.

According to the US government, the settlement resolves Toyota’s “systemic, longstanding violations of Clean Air Act emissions-related defect reporting requirements, which require manufacturers to report potential defects and recalls affecting vehicle components designed to control emissions.”

Unlike other automakers, Toyota has not been found to be guilty of exceeding emissions limits

“Toyota failed to report mandatory information about potential defects in their cars to the EPA, keeping the agency in the dark and evading oversight. EPA considers this failure to be a serious violation of the Clean Air Act,” said EPA assistant administrator Susan Bodine.

Toyota had “routinely filed emission defect reports to EPA materially late and, in many cases, failed to file such reports at all” until its self-disclosure non-compliance in 2015, the Justice Department said in its court filing. The US government had initially sought a higher civil penalty for Toyota, according to sources briefed on the matter.

Meanwhile, attorney Audrey Strauss said that “Toyota shut its eyes to the non-compliance, failing to provide proper training, attention and oversight to its Clean Air Act reporting obligations,” continuing to say that Toyota’s actions “undermines EPA’s self-disclosure system and likely led to delayed or avoided emissions-related recalls, resulting in financial benefit to Toyota and excess emissions of air pollutants.”

In response, Toyota stated that “while this reporting delay resulted in negligible emissions impact, if any, we recognise that some of our reporting protocols fell short of our own high standards, and we are pleased to have resolved this matter.”

Other automaker groups have found themselves on the receiving end of US Justice Department penalties, including Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, though in Toyota’s case, the Japanese manufacturer did not sustain allegations of emissions cheating, according to Reuters.