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Federal investigators have found evidence of wrongdoing in General Motors’ failure to disclose a defect tied to at least 84 deaths, and are seeking a substantial penalty from the company, NBC News has confirmed.

It is not yet known how the penalty would compare with the $1.2 billion paid last year by Toyota for concealing unintended acceleration problems, but the New York Times reported that GM's settlement is expected to be a record fine, exceeding Toyota's payment. The Times said a settlement could be reached as soon as this summer.

Some former GM employees are under investigation and could face criminal charges, the Times reported.

General Motors has offered a compensation plan to those affected by the faulty ignition switches, including incidents that occurred before its 2009 bankruptcy. A U.S. bankruptcy judge ruled last month will not have to face dozens of lawsuits accusing it of concealing the defect.

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— Richard Esposito and Patrick Garrity