US: Top Toyota, Hyundai, executives quit
One of Toyota's top three US executives, Dennis Cuneo, has left the company to rejoin his former law firm, Bloomberg News reported.
Cuneo, 56, retired from the automaker at the end of September and will return to Washington-based Arent Fox, Toyota spokeswoman Mira Sleilati told the news agency, which noted he will continue to advise Toyota's engineering and manufacturing unit as a consultant.
Bloomberg News said his departure came five months after his name surfaced in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against former North American chief executive Hideaki Otaka by Otaka's female assistant - the suit claimed that Cuneo failed to respond properly when the assistant complained about the harassment.
"I'm leaving on very good terms with Toyota," Cuneo told Bloomberg News in an interview. "I'd been thinking about doing this since the beginning of the year."
According to the report, Cuneo and Toyota spokeswoman Sleilati said the retirement was unrelated to the harassment suit, which was settled in August. Otaka left the company a week after the lawsuit was filed, saying he didn't want to be a distraction.
Bloomberg News said Cuneo was a senior vice president for Toyota and in charge of US government relations and site selection for North American factories. He starts his job with Arent Fox on 1 November as counsel for the firm's automotive group, the report added.
James Press, who became Toyota's North American president in May, will handle some of Cuneo's duties, Sleilati told the news agency, which added there are no plans to name a replacement.
Cuneo joined Toyota in 1984 after stints with Arent Fox as well as the Justice Department and was promoted to senior vice president in 2001, Bloomberg News added.
The report was carried by the Los Angeles Times which also said that the head of Hyundai Motor's US marketing department, Michelle Cervantez, had resigned.
Cervantez, 42, joined Fountain Valley-based Hyundai Motor America in August 2005 after stints at Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar, the report said.