Tag: Scandals

By on August 14, 2020

General Motors’ attempt to revive its RICO lawsuit has failed after a federal court claimed the new evidence presented was too speculative to start the legal process back up. U.S. District Judge Paul Borman dismissed the case with prejudice in July, calling it a “waste of time,” but GM returned with new evidence it hoped might turn the tables.

Filed in November, the General’s case against FCA claims its rival finagled a labor advantage by bribing UAW officials during key contract negotiations. With a federal corruption case still probing the union, and with Fiat Chrysler’s known involvement, it seems like GM might have had a case here. But Judge Borman didn’t think there was sufficient evidence before, and hasn’t changed his mind since.

(Read More…)

By on August 4, 2020

Last November, General Motors filed a racketeering suit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, claiming its rival was involved in a prolonged bribery scheme with UAW leaders to gain an unfair labor-cost advantage. Despite FCA already having staff participating in a vast union corruption scandal, U.S. District Judge Paul Borman dismissed the GM case in July after claiming there was nothing to it beyond petty corporate squabbling.

Now GM is back, claiming it has new evidence against FCA that’s going to blow the lid off everything.

On Monday, the General asked the court to reinstate the racketeering lawsuit. It now claims that there’s evidence of foreign bank accounts used in the alleged bribery scandal. We say “alleged” despite the FBI’s continued investigation into the UAW (separate from the GM-FCA suit) showing criminal levels of corruption. The company even suggested that Alphons Iacobelli (who is already serving time for bribing union officials) channeled sensitive information back to FCA after being hired by GM. The claimed plot then has Fiat Chrysler paying the Iacobelli  family millions of dollars via overseas accounts.

“These new facts warrant amending the court’s prior judgment, so we are respectfully asking the court to reinstate the case,” GM said.

(Read More…)

By on June 24, 2020

Over the weekend, NASCAR incurred what was assumed to be a racist incident after a member of outspoken Richard Petty Motorsports driver Bubba Wallace’s team claimed someone had hung a noose in Wallace’s garage. Earlier in the month, the diver released a new livery on his No. 43 Chevrolet promoting Black Lives Matter, saying he and his team stood in broad support of the organization. He also requested NASCAR ban the Confederate flag from all future events — getting his wish and causing a minor ruckus within the community.

The context helped frame the noose that appeared in his garage on Sunday as a racist action and drew massive support from every corner of the sport. Richard Petty came out to said he would stand with Wallace and practically everyone walked with him down Talladega’s pit lane in solidarity. NASCAR President Steve Phelps likewise expressed his backing for Wallace on Monday, saying whoever committed the hateful act would be barred from the sport for life.

This was followed by Northern District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Jay Town saying his office had launched an investigation along with the FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. The wheels of justice were put swiftly into motion, but it turned out that the noose was just a door pull someone had set up in 2019.   (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2020

Tokyo prosecutors have issued warrants for the arrest of Carlos Ghosn and three Americans they claim helped him escape the country in December. His surprise arrival in Lebanon initially befuddled Japanese authorities, prompting the country to file a red notice with Interpol before releasing the latest warrant.

While a new development in the Ghosn saga, it doesn’t change much. The former executive still faces charges of financial misconduct stemming from his tenure with Nissan, but he now finds himself charged with violating Japan’s Immigration Control Law.

Japan’s take is that Ghosn fled the country to avoid justice (a backwards version of his own view). The former automotive executive and his wife, who is also wanted in Japan, have both stated publicly that they believe the country’s legal system would never allow Ghosn a fair trial, claiming officials worked with Nissan to help enact the industrial-grade coup that removed him.  (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2019

A federal probe that’s been dropping United Auto Workers staff like flies has another one in its crosshairs, this time with ties to General Motors. Up until now, the investigation has primarily involved members connected to the union’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles department or the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center. But, according to court records filed Wednesday, retired UAW-GM Center for Human Resources board member Michael Grimes is also formally accused of corruption.

Grimes becomes the ninth individual to be slapped with corruption charges and the first with links to an automaker outside of FCA. He is not, however, alone. Court documents suggest he’s one of several UAW officials suspected of accepting bribes and kickbacks from automakers; they’ve just yet to be named.  (Read More…)

By on August 6, 2019

Former union vice president Norwood Jewel has become the highest ranking UAW member to be convicted of corruption charges in a federal investigation that has lasted four years and delivered prison sentences for eight people, including Fiat Chrysler’s former labor negotiator, Alphons Iacobelli. You might recall him from to his extravagant spending habits.

The probe amassed evidence showing UAW officials receiving extravagant gifts, private residences, vacations, parties, and even cash furnished by FCA. Bribes, essentially, to help draw union concessions. Investigators looked into claims that high-ranking UAW members received kickbacks after giving business executives contracts to produce union-branded chachkies (shirts, keychains, frisbees, etc) and concerns that union members’ donations to flower funds intended for funeral services were misappropriated by the leadership.

Ford and General Motors are also under the microscope, with both saying they’re in full cooperation with authorities and cannot comment further.  (Read More…)

By on June 10, 2019

Wells Fargo will reportedly pay customers a minimum of $386 million to settle class-action claims that the bank covertly signed customers up for auto insurance they did not want or need.

Back in the summer of 2017, the bank found itself implicated in widespread auto insurance and mortgage lending abuses. Over a year later, Wells Fargo was slapped with a $1 billion fine from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to settle U.S. investigations into the company’s insurance and mortgage practices.

While the auto insurance plan ended in 2016, roughly 800,000 customers (or 600k by Wells Fargo’s estimates) were believed to be affected by the auto insurance issue over roughly a four-year period. For most, that meant being overcharged for insurance they didn’t need., but some customers ended up with their vehicles repossessed and their credit rating demolished, promoting the class-action suit.  (Read More…)

By on March 19, 2019

Norwood Jewell, the former head of the United Auto Workers’ unit attached to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, has been charged by federal prosecutors in Detroit with violating the Labor Management Relations Act. This makes him the highest ranking UAW member to be charged in the union corruption case that appeared to be on pause while investigators reexamined suspects, following a string of convictions in 2018.

Federal investigators are relatively certain that FCA engaged in the widespread bribery of union officials who were able to tap into funds allocated for their National Training Center — a scheme dating back to 2009. According to defamed former FCA vice president Alphons Iacobelli, the goal was to keep union officials “fat, dumb and happy.” Millions of dollars were believed to have been used to buy the UAW’s cooperation, and Jewell appears to have gotten a slice.  (Read More…)

By on March 13, 2019

A recent report from Bloomberg frames Tesla CEO Elon Musk as quite the jerk in relation to his actions toward a former employee. This worker is the whistleblower who, last year, shared internal documents that suggested the company’s Nevada Gigafactory was blowing through raw materials at an alarming rate. Martin Tripp offered up information showing Tesla wasted $150 million in materials and accused the automaker of pursuing unsafe production procedures during its push to increase Model 3 volume.

Tripp, who tried briefly to maintain his anonymity, said he was concerned that Tesla was shipping cars that were potentially dangerous to consumers. However, Tesla quickly responded by suggesting the claims against it were ridiculous and the amount of waste cited in the report was an overstatement.

“As is expected with any new manufacturing process, we had high scrap rates earlier in the Model 3 ramp. This is something we planned for and is a normal part of a production ramp,” Tesla told Business Insider in 2018.

Following an intense Twitter rant from Elon Musk, the story died down. But the corporate task force charged with finding out who leaked the information would eventually lead to even more ridiculous claims.    (Read More…)

By on November 7, 2018

Wells Fargo, Mike Mozart/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Roughly a year ago, Wells Fargo got itself into hot water over shady business practices relating to widespread auto insurance and mortgage lending abuse. After a lengthy investigation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency eventually suggested Well Fargo pay $1 billion to “resolve” the governmental probes. President Donald Trump then said federal agencies needed to go after the bank hard to set an example. The agencies came back with a consent order saying it was time to pay up.

Despite the insurance issue affecting an estimated 800,000 customers over a four-year period, Wells Fargo seemed able to recover from the scandal and move past it. However, new allegations claim the bank’s leadership was aware customers were probably being overcharged several years before it finally cancelled the program.  (Read More…)

By on June 10, 2018

FCA sign, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, which remains in the midst of a multimillion-dollar federal corruption scandal, is suing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officials and a union leader’s widow for over $4.4 million in damages. If you’ll recall three FCA employees filed a federal lawsuit against the automaker and the UAW seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages over allegations that union officials colluded with company executives to influence collective bargaining earlier this year.

Now it’s time for the National Training Center to get a piece of the action. The lawsuit, filed Friday in Oakland County Circuit Court, targets former FCA labor negotiator Alphons Iacobelli; Monica Morgan-Holiefield, the widow of former UAW Vice President General Holiefield; and ex-FCA financial analyst Jerome Durden. Money was believed to be funneled through the training facility by a policy created by company officials to bribe UAW leaders into giving the automaker favorable treatment during collective bargaining.  (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2018

wells fargo

Wells Fargo is getting slammed with all kinds of penalties over shady business practices. Currently prohibited from growing its business as investigators look into its practices, the bank has restructured itself after it was implicated in widespread auto insurance and mortgage lending abuse in the summer of 2017. It’s also still coping with an earlier scandal involving local branches opening fake accounts for customers.

Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency suggested Well Fargo pay $1 billion to “resolve” the governmental probes into those issues. That changed today when the bureau filed a consent order announcing it was time for the bank to pay up.

The fine applies to the mortgage lending issues, as well as Wells Fargo’s past practice of charging thousands of auto loan customers for insurance they didn’t need and often didn’t even know about. The move caused some borrowers to default on their loans, resulting in their vehicles being repossessed. The consent order mandates that the bank remediate those customers.  (Read More…)

By on February 7, 2018

Chrysler HQ Auburn Hills

The last of four people initially charged in the UAW-Fiat Chrysler corruption scandal pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one of five charges against her. That makes the entire quartet culpable, at least to some degree, to the financial misconduct that occured between the automaker and workers’ union.

However, the case is far from closed. While Monica Morgan, the widow of former UAW vice president General Holiefield, copped to one count of subscribing a false tax return, her plea bargain ignores the other charges against her. The prosecution’s leniency may indicate a hope that she might assist with the ongoing union corruption probe, even though the deal doesn’t require her to cooperate with investigators. Of course, the prosecution already has former FCA labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli for that task  (Read More…)

By on February 1, 2018

 

FCA sign, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The multimillion-dollar corruption scandal involving the United Automobile Workers and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is starting to cross the line from hubbub to full-on fiasco. Earlier this week, three FCA employees filed a federal lawsuit against the automaker and the UAW seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages over allegations that union officials colluded with company executives to influence collective bargaining.

Meanwhile, a recently released plea deal with former FCA labor relations head Alphons Iacobelli implicated former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell — the man tasked with overseeing the most recent round of contract negotiations with FCA. Iacobelli claims he and other FCA employees transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal payments to tax-exempt organizations controlled by UAW officials, including Jewell’s Making Our Children Smile Foundation. (Read More…)

By on November 17, 2017

infiniti nissan factory japan

On Friday, Nissan Motor Co. blamed a shortage of key staff for improper final inspection procedures at Japanese assembly plants. The problem, which amounts to little more than not having having a specially certified technician give each vehicle a final once-over, has forced the automaker to recall 1.2 million vehicles within Japan this year. As the mandate applies only to vehicles sold on the nation’s domestic market, no exports to North America are affected.

However, that hasn’t stopped Japan’s government from coming down hard on the company for its bureaucratic misstep. After discovering that uncertified inspectors were signing off on vehicle checks required by the transport ministry, Nissan has been incredibly apologetic. It even launched a full-scale investigation, finding that “nonconforming final inspections” were commonplace by the 1990s at the plants, and could even have existed at one factory since 1979.  (Read More…)

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