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Fiat chief rejects complaints over US sales data
[DETROIT] Allegations that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles falsified US sales data are meritless and the company's financial reports are "totally accurate," chief executive Sergio Marchionne told reporters Friday.
Mr Marchionne said the FCA is cooperating with authorities from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department probing the company's reporting after it was forced to restate unit sales for the past five years last month, revising the way it counted vehicle turnover.
The move came after a Fiat Chrysler dealer group sued the company over its sales reporting practices, which one said amounted to fraud.
The SEC is investigating whether FCA deliberately misstated the sales numbers, but Mr Marchionne insisted there was no intent to deceive.
"The (sales reporting) system goes back to the 1980s. We inherited it" when Fiat took over Chrysler, Mr Marchionne told reporters during a visit to an FCA stamping plant in the Detroit suburbs.
"We kept on applying the system that has been applied for nearly 40 years," he said. "I make no bones about it. We picked it up in 2009." He rejected the suggestions in some media reports that there was anything more serious.
"The allegations are ultimately trivial," Mr Marchionne said.
"The press started to read into the allegations of all kinds of things and one has to be careful in accepting them at face value."
"The important thing to remember is that our financial numbers are totally accurate," he said.
"We look forward to having that conversation with the SEC and we'll take it from there." Mr Marchionne also said FCA has not yet found a partner to build small and mid-sized passenger cars.
He announced back in January that FCA planned to shift more of its production capacity to building trucks and sport utility vehicles, which are more popular with American consumers than passenger cars.
Mr Marchionne also declined to comment on reports that FCA's component unit Magneti Marelli will be sold to South Korea's Samsung.
"I don't want to comment on Magneti Marelli," he said.
"I have said long term Magneti Marelli would benefit from being outside Fiat."