DETROIT -- General Motors and Ford Motor Co. said they are "cooperating" with federal investigators who have subpoenaed information about jointly operated training centers with the UAW.
The operations are similar to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, which is a focus of a federal corruption investigation that allegedly involved former top contract negotiators and others siphoning about $4.5 million meant for employee training to company and union officials.
The Detroit News on Thursday first reported that investigators have issued subpoenas in recent weeks for information about the GM and Ford training centers. The newspaper reported investigators are "interested" in Joe Ashton, a retired UAW vice president who was appointed to GM's board in 2014, and Cindy Estrada, his successor in charge of the union's GM department.
The News, citing sources familiar with the investigation, said the expanded probe focuses on whether training funds were misappropriated, and if labor leaders at GM and Ford received money or benefits through tax-exempt nonprofits, which feds contend were used to siphon money from the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center to company and union officials.
Ford told Automotive News in August that it did not plan to review the finances of its operation, known as UAW-Ford National Programs Center, after the federal investigation and charges into FCA's operation. It stands by those plans, according to a Ford spokeswoman.
"We are cooperating with the inquiry," the company said in an emailed statement. "We are confident in the UAW-Ford National Programs Center leadership team and the policies and procedures used to govern the program operations that benefit approximately 57,000 members of our UAW-Ford hourly workforce."
GM in August declined to comment on whether it would launch an internal investigation or if former FCA lead negotiator Al Iacobelli -- whom federal prosecutors accused of being at the center of the multimillion dollar scheme at the FCA-UAW training center -- remained a GM employee.
Details about Iacobelli's employment remain unclear. GM in an emailed statement on Thursday confirmed it had "been contacted by the Eastern District of Michigan U.S. Attorney's Office" and is "fully cooperating with the investigation." A GM spokesman also confirmed that the company is "conducting an internal review of the matter in addition to cooperating with the investigation."
The UAW declined to comment on the expanded investigation, referencing inquires to previous statements made by the union.