(Bloomberg) – Takata Corp. agreed to plead guilty and pay $1 billion to settle an investigation into its exploding air bags, which have been linked to at least 17 deaths worldwide, the U.S. Justice Department said.

The company will admit to wire fraud for misleading regulators, consumers and car manufacturers about the safety of its air bags, which would explode and spray drivers and passengers with shrapnel, according to court papers. Takata will be subject to an independent compliance monitor while on probation for three years.

100 million recalls expected

The Tokyo-based manufacturer has had difficulty coping with the recall, already the largest in history and expected to pass 100 million. Putting the criminal investigation behind it should help the struggling car parts maker find a buyer. The sale is expected to be announced by March after due diligence had to be extended in part because of the challenges of calculating the potential liabilities, people with knowledge of the talks said last month.

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