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Kim Gwang-ho, a former Hyundai Motor engineer, poses with a presidential certificate recognizing his anti-corruption work at his home in Seoul, South Korea. (REUTERS)
Kim Gwang-ho, a former Hyundai Motor engineer, poses with a presidential certificate recognizing his anti-corruption work at his home in Seoul, South Korea. (REUTERS)

Hyundai Motor whistleblower gets $24 million. Here's what he plans to do next

  • Kim Gwang-ho worked with Hyundai Motor for 26 years and was part of the company's quality strategy team.

Credited for bringing to light safety concerns in many Hyundai Motor vehicles in the US which eventually led to a severe penalty for the Korean brand here, Kim Gwang-ho was recently awarded $24 million for tipping off US' National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA). The South Korean engineer now plans to help others to speak up and speak out in order to bolster responsible corporate culture.

Speaking to Reuters, a 59-year-old Kim revealed he plans to set up a foundation which would promote responsible corporate culture and also open a Youtube channel in which he would explain how to reveal their employer's bad conducts. "The compensation I expected from the whistleblower program in the United States outweighed the sacrifice I had to make in South Korea," he reportedly said. “(The amount) is not incredible or anything like that, I'd say it's about right."

Kim had been an employee at Hyundai Motor for 26 years and was part of the company's quality strategy team. It were his inputs which had resulted into an investigation by US authorities into potential safety defects in some of Hyundai and Kia models and possible delays in issuing safety-related recall. NHTSA would go on to state that the two had inaccurately reported some information to the agency regarding the recalls.

While Hyundai agreed to pay a total civil penalty of $140 million, Kia's civil penalty amounted to $70 million. The entire matter stretched for around five years but at the end of it all, earlier this month, NHTSA announced part of the penalty paid by the two automakers would be given as award to Kim. ""It's the right amount when you look at what I had to sacrifice, how much I had to work on this," he told Reuters. "After my report, I believe that automakers now know that anyone can blow the whistle and they cannot hide anything."

The NHTSA, meanwhile, continues to urge others to speak up if there is concrete evidence of any foulplay done by any automaker.

  • First Published Date : 15 Nov 2021, 09:15 AM IST

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