While the headline grabber might be the dropping of the FCA-Renault merger, that wasn't the only big news for the company yesterday. FCA executive Reid Bigland, who is the head of the Ram brand, US sales, and chair, president, and CEO of FCA Canada, has reportedly filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the company. Bigland claims in the suit that he was a scapegoat over US federal probe into the company's sales reporting practices.
In the suit, Automotive News reports, Bigland claims he is being retaliated against for cooperating with a US Securities and Exchanges Commission investigation, including having his pay slashed by 90 percent starting in March. The suit, filed in Michigan, alleges that FCA execs planned to use the withheld compensation to pay any SEC penalties or settlements. The actions will cost Bigland around US $1.8 million, the suit says.
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Bigland cooperated with the SEC investigation, testifying about FCA's US sales reporting, the suit says, with those practices under investigation in place long before his taking over the position in 2011. The suit says that this alleged retaliation was due to an "unwillingness to act as a scapegoat for defendants’ 30-year practice which predated him.”
"In late 2018, presumably as a way to wrap up their investigation with some result, the SEC suggested to plaintiff that he admit to some wrongdoing as to defendants' monthly sales reporting," Deborah Gordon, Bigland's lawyer, wrote in the lawsuit. "The SEC also suggested a resolution involving some penalty to FCA. Because (Bigland) had not engaged in any wrongdoing, and there was no wrongdoing, he declined to do so."
“We’re hoping my client will receive the compensation he has earned and then some,” Bigland's lawyer Deborah Gordon told Automotive News Wednesday. “It appears my client is being retaliated against.”