The widespread fault – in which certain models were subject to complete engine shut down because the ignition could not handle the weight of keys, thus preventing the deployment of airbags in an accident – led to at least 124 deaths and 275 injuries.
The Detroit-based automotive conglomerate was reportedly aware of the fault and its dangers by 2004, however it took 10 years for the first vehicles to be recalled.
According to Californian prosecutors, the US car maker downplayed and concealed information about the potentially life-threatening faults from investors, including the state's largest pension system for public employees.
As of 2021, General Motors has paid close to US$3 billion (AU$3.9 billion) in total fines and penalties relating to the fault. It has recalled 30 million cars worldwide.