The US Securities and Exchange Commission claims FCA paid dealers to manipulate their sales data over a five-year period.
- shares

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has settled with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over accusations it inflated sales figures between 2012 and 2016.

The Detroit (and Turin) giant will pay US$40 million ($59 million) and has promised to stop the dodgy practices.

According to the SEC, Fiat Chrysler dealers would create and maintain a database of unreported sales throughout strong months, often called the 'cookie jar' by employees.

In slower months, FCA USA would then dip into the 'cookie jar' and report old sales as if they'd just happened.

This practice helped the company report inflated sales figures and claim an unbroken streak of growth months between 2012 and 2016, when in fact the streak ended in September 2013.

The scheme was revealed in 2016, at which point Fiat Chrysler claimed it was used to record sales of cars shipped to big fleet buyers.

"New vehicle sales figures provide investors insight into the demand for an automaker’s products, a key factor in assessing the company’s performance," said Antonia Chion, associate director in the SEC Division of Enforcement.

"This case underscores the need for companies to truthfully disclose their key performance indicators."