Regulators investigate Fiat Chrysler over allegedly falsified month reports
Allegations were made against Fiat Chrysler earlier this year by a car dealer who claimed that it manipulated sales figures, and who also sued the company in January for rewarding stores who falsified sales reports.
Illinois dealer Edward Napleton alleges Fiat Chrysler's recent sales growth was achieved by "strong arm" tactics to get dealers to falsify month reports, creating "the appearance that performance is better than, in reality, it actually is."
The lawsuit brought by Napleton said that in June 2015, a district manager for Fiat Chrysler in Illinois asked one of its dealerships to falsely report 40 vehicles as sold in exchange for a $20,000 payment.
Now the US Justice Department and Securities Exchange Commission are following up the claims, having visited the homes of several regional officers of the carmaker.
Some manufacturers say dealers are allowed to purchase cars for their own use to meet month-end sales goals. Executives have defended the actions as commonplace in the industry and a way to supply dealers with extra cars for driver-testing and service-department loans. ■