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India panel finds GM responsible in emissions testing case: government source

Employees work on the Chevrolet Tavera compact MPV assembly line inside a plant of General Motors India Ltd. at Halol, east of the western I
Employees work on the Chevrolet Tavera compact MPV assembly line inside a plant of General Motors India Ltd. at Halol, east of the western I

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian government-appointed panel investigating General Motors Co's recall of 114,000 Tavera vehicles says the company flouted testing regulations, a senior government official who has seen the report said.

"The report has pointed out that it is in the nature of corporate fraud," the government official, who declined to be named as the information is not public, told Reuters.

"It says only the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) was responsible for whatever happened," and that there was no wrongdoing found on the part of the testing labs, the official added.

GM India said in a statement it had identified violations of company policy and those responsible.

The company could be fined about 100 million rupees ($1.6 million) under current provisions, the official said.

The report, which will be taken up by India's roads ministry, does not name any specific GM officials, he said.

The case relates to the July recall of 114,000 India-made Tavera sport utility vehicles (SUVs) over issues relating to emission standards and other regulatory specifications. Production was also halted.

The Economic Times reported in July that GM had told the government that employees had fitted engines with low emissions in the vehicles sent for inspection.

The company fired several employees in July after an internal probe into the recall uncovered what it called "violations of company policy".

The Times of India and the Hindustan Times newspapers earlier on Tuesday reported the panel's findings.

"We determined there was an emissions problem," GM India said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. "We investigated it and identified violations of company policy.

"We held people accountable. And, we advised Indian authorities," the company said. "Beyond that, we're not able to comment as we've not heard from the government or seen the report."

GM has restarted production of the Tavera sport-utility vehicles in India after receiving regulatory approvals, a company executive told Reuters on Saturday.

($1 = 61.5000 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy and Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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