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TOKYO, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Japan's Takata Corp is the subject of a U.S. criminal investigation over potentially defective car air bags that have been linked to five deaths globally, a company spokesman said on Thursday.
A federal grand jury in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has subpoenaed Takata's U.S. unit to produce documents related to air bag defects, the spokesman said.
A criminal investigation into the Japanese company by federal prosecutors had been previously reported, but Thursday's statement is the first indication that a seated grand jury was seeking evidence.
The National Highway Transport Safety Administration (NHTSA) has also issued a special order to the Takata unit demanding documents and other evidence related to air bag defects. Takata has until Dec. 1 to comply with that order.
The company disclosed the probe in a closed door meeting with financial analysts earlier on Thursday, according to an account from one participant. (Writing by William Mallard; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)