BMW will pay an $18 million fine to settle allegations that it inflated its monthly US sales numbers for five straight years. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday that the German luxury automaker kept a reserve of unreported sales that it drew on to meet monthly targets from 2015 to 2019, the AP reports. BMW disclosed the misleading information while raising about $18 billion in corporate bond offerings, the agency said. "Companies accessing U.S. markets to raise capital have an obligation to provide accurate information to investors," Stephanie Avakian, the SEC's Enforcement Division director, said in a statement. The actions helped BMW maintain a leading retail sales position among other luxury automakers, the agency said.
BMW of North America also improperly adjusted its sales reporting calendar in 2015 and 2017 to meet internal targets or bank excess sales for use in future months, according to the SEC; the reserve of unreported sales was referred to internally as "the bank." BMW paid dealers to designate vehicles as demonstrators or loaners so they could be counted as sales, the SEC said. The SEC said BMW cooperated with its investigation, which was taken into account when the penalty was imposed. BMW AG, BMW North America and BMW US Capital did not admit or deny the findings but agreed to pay the fine and stop violating securities laws. BMW blamed negligence. "There is no allegation or finding in the order that any BMW entity engaged in intentional misconduct," the company said.
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