BMW is being investigated by the SEC for falsifying US sales data


Falsifying sales data is bad news, especially if you get caught by the SEC.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

The folks from BMW must have never seen HBO’s The Wire. If they had, they’d know that juking the stats is always a bad idea. According to a report published Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal, BMW is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC is looking into BMW’s US operations because the luxury brand has allegedly been engaging in a practice known as “sales punching,” in which a dealer reports vehicles that are still in inventory as being sold. This shows up as inflated sales, which looks good on a monthly balance sheet but causes all kinds of other problems down the line.

If this falsifying sales narrative sounds kind of familiar, it’s likely because Fiat Chrysler underwent a similar investigation a few months ago, spurred in part by Reid Bigland, one-time head of the Ram truck brand. That investigation resulted in FCA shelling out a little cash for a fine and promising never to do it again. We’d expect similar results for BMW if found guilty.

Notably — and perhaps because of these sales practices which got them in trouble — FCA joined Ford and General Motors in transitioning to quarterly sales reports, rather than monthly. The Wall Street Journal points out that while the Big Three changed reporting, most other brands still report monthly.

Neither BMW nor the SEC responded immediately to Roadshow’s request for comment.

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