General Motors Co. could be forced to plead guilty as part of a settlement with the Justice Department, which is nearing a decision on whether to seek criminal charges against the automaker in its delayed recall of 2.6 million cars for ignition switch defects linked to at least 104 deaths, a legal expert said Sunday.

The investigation by the Justice Department is being done at a time when it has been taking a harder line against companies.

In previous years, the Justice Department allowed companies like Toyota Motor Corp., Daimler AG and major banks to avoid guilty pleas.

But last week, five banks — Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., the Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays PLC and UBS AG — agreed to plead guilty to U.S. felony charges and pay $5.4 billion in fines after they were charged with conspiracy to manipulate currency rates. They will be on probation for three years and must cooperate with other criminal investigations.

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Legal Analyst Says Fed May Force GM To Plead Guilty To Criminal Charges In Over 100 Wrongful Deaths

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