BMW probed by SEC over sales reporting

BMW may have boosted its apparent sales figures

(CNN) - The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating BMW, the German automaker confirmed Monday.

A source familiar with the investigation said the SEC is looking into the manner in which BMW reported its sales figures in the United States. The Wall Street Journal first reported this story.

BMW may have boosted its apparent sales figures by having dealers register cars that had not yet actually been sold to customers, the Journal reported.

A BMW spokesman confirmed that the company had been contacted by the SEC and was cooperating with the investigation.

Earlier this year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles agreed to pay a $40 million fine for its sales-reporting practices. FCA admitted no wrongdoing in that case but, according the SEC, it had paid dealers to report "fake sales." FCA also maintained a database of unreported sales, which the company could later report to maintain a facade of year-over-year monthy sales increases for over six years, the SEC claimed.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz are the top two bestselling luxury brands in the United States. In 2019, excluding Mercedes' large Sprinter and Metris vans, BMW is outselling Mercedes luxury cars and SUVs, according to data from Kelley Blue Book. The two brands are very close, though, with BMW reporting 289,080 sales as of November 2019 and Mercedes-Benz reporting 285,800, excluding the vans, according to KBB.

-- CNN Business' Kate Trafecante contributed to this report.

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