DETROIT -- A confident Sergio Marchionne told reporters last month that the federal investigation into Fiat Chrysler's U.S. sales reporting system is "a nonissue" and that the company is cooperating.
"The important thing to remember is that our financial numbers are totally unimpacted by this issue," Marchionne said at an Aug. 26 event in suburban Detroit. "It's a nonissue."
On July 11, investigators from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission raided all nine of FCA's regional business centers in the U.S., as well as the company's headquarters and some employees' homes. Information from FCA dealers has also been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in Detroit looking into the matter, said a lawyer for one of the dealers who had received a subpoena.
On Thursday, Sept. 1, The Wall Street Journal reported that federal investigators are looking into whether the automaker encouraged dealers to falsify sales figures by using a phrase -- the "unnatural acts department" -- to signify to dealers and subordinates that they should start boosting numbers. The Journal cited people familiar with the investigation as the source of the revelation, and said an FCA spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.
Shortly after news of the federal investigations became public, FCA announced it had changed its sales reporting method and restated monthly sales results going back to 2011. The new method removes any dealer-reported sales that are subsequently "unwound," meaning the vehicles weren't actually sold, and reports fleet sales when they are delivered.