Embattled Kobe Steel Ltd says the U.S. Justice Department is now asking the steelmaker to provide documents related to its data falsification scandal. Grace Lee reports.
Another blow to the credibility of Japan's third largest steelmaker, as the U.S. Justice Department asks Kobe Steel to hand over documents on products it supplied to U.S. companies. That request comes after a source told Reuters that data tampering was rife at Kobe for more than ten years, deepening the crisis that's already wiped more than one and a half billion dollars off the company's market value. And analysts say that could just be the tip of the iceberg. Kobe is now trying to nail down the extent of the tampering, which, according to an unsourced Nikkei report, went on for decades with the knowledge of managers. The Japanese government has ordered the company to address safety concerns within two weeks, followed by a report on how the misconduct occurred. Companies from Boeing to the operator of Japan's iconic bullet trains have been sucked into the scandal, all having bought steel products from Kobe in the past. The company has moved to reassure investors, saying it's got more than three billion dollars on hand. But execs appear to know this scandal is going to get costly. Kobe is looking to generate cash by cutting working capital, possibly even selling assets.