By Kimberly Chin 

German luxury car maker Bayerische Motoren Werke AG has agreed to pay $18 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle claims that BMW and two of its U.S. units had disclosed misleading sales figures.

The regulator found that the Munich-based auto maker had provided inaccurate information regarding its U.S. retail sales while raising roughly $18 billion from bond investors. Between 2015 and 2019, BMW had boosted sales figures by having dealers register cars as sold when the vehicles were still on the lots, the SEC said. The practice is known in the U.S. as sales punching.

"Through its repeated disclosure failures, BMW misled investors about its U.S. retail sales performance and customer demand for BMW vehicles in the U.S. market while raising capital in the U.S.," said SEC Enforcement Division Director Stephanie Avakian.

The auto maker resolved the charges without admitting or denying the claims.

"The BMW Group attaches great importance to the correctness of its sales figures and will continue to focus on thorough and consistent sales reporting," a BMW spokesman said in an emailed statement.

BMW and its subsidiaries will pay the joint penalty and "cease and desist from future violations," the SEC said. BMW's significant cooperation in the investigation resulted in a lower fine, the agency said.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV in September 2019 agreed to pay $40 million to settle claims by the SEC that the company had for years paid dealers to report exaggerated sales figures. Fiat Chrysler said at the time it had reviewed and refined its sales reporting procedures and was committed to maintaining stronger controls.

Write to Kimberly Chin at kimberly.chin@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 24, 2020 19:18 ET (23:18 GMT)

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