In a surprising announcement on Friday, General Motors Company (GM) said its general counsel Mike Millikin – who with CEO Mary Barra has been at the center of criticism related to the company’s controversial auto recalls this year – will retire.
Mr. Millikin will be stepping down early next year. GM has said it is actively searching for a new external general counsel. No specific reason was provided for his departure, but Patrick Morrissey, a GM spokesperson, told the NY Times that his resignation was strictly voluntary.
“Clearly it was voluntary because he is staying on to help with the transition and help with the search for a new general counsel,” Mr. Morrissey said.
Mr. Millikin’s departure will add to a growing list of top executives who have left GM since February, including the heads of communications, engineering, and government affairs.
In February, GM recalled 2.6 million older, smaller cars with a deadly ignition-switch defect which could lead to a power outage to the vehicle’s engine and steering wheel and failed air bag deployment in the event of a crash. However, company records reveal that GM’s lawyers and other employees knew about the defect as long as a decade ago but had failed to promptly recall the faulty vehicles, which over the years accounted for casualties and serious injuries.
GM executives including head lawyer Mr. Millikin have since been summoned for multiple congressional subcommittee hearings, on top of a separate investigation being conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which has already demanded a record $35 million fine for GM’s negligent behavior. Additionally, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and about 45 state attorneys general are investigating GM.
SOURCE: George Zack