Sept. 28 (UPI) — Fiat Chrysler agreed to pay $40 million to settle charges it misled investors about the number of vehicles it sold each month and kept a database of unreported sales employees referred to as a “cookie jar,” the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Friday.
Under the agreement, the automaker admits no wrongdoing related to the allegations.
The SEC accused Fiat Chrysler of falsely reporting a streak of uninterrupted monthly year-over-year sales growth between 2012 and 2016. Government officials said that streak was broken September 2013.
The growth streak was considered a key performance indicator demonstrating demand for the company’s vehicles.
The SEC said Fiat Chrysler inflated numbers by paying dealerships to lie about new car sales and by keeping the so-called “cookie jar” database of unreported sales. The company “dipped into” the database to report old sales as new when needed.
“New vehicle sales figures provide investors insight into the demand for an automaker’s products, a key factor in assessing the company’s performance,” said Antonia Chion, associate director in the Division of Enforcement. “This case underscores the need for companies to truthfully disclose their key performance indicators.”
Fiat Chrysler said it “fully cooperated” with the SEC to resolve the charges.
“The company has reviewed and refined its policies and procedures and is committed to maintaining strong controls regarding its sales reporting,” the company said.