Fiat Chrysler pursuing former chief executive
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Australasian motor industry identity Clyde Campbell is at the centre of a $30million case alleging he used corporate funds to pay for a lavish lifestyle.
The former chief of Fiat Chrysler in New Zealand and Australia is accused of misappropriating and misusing company funds in what is described by Australian media as the biggest scandal to hit the Australian motor industry.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia, which distributes Jeep, Chrysler, Fiat and Alfa Romeo cars, has filed documents in the Australian Federal Court making the allegations.
Campbell was chief executive of the company from October 2010 until May 2013, and the documents allege during this period he used corporate funds “directly or indirectly” to pay for a golf and spa holiday in New Zealand, a $400,000 yacht, a plane, and to fund lavish overseas trips.
Fiat Chrysler also allege cars were arranged overseas for high profile celebrities such as Shane Warne, Elizabeth Hurley and Harry Kewell through a company Campbell was associated with. There is no suggestion there was any wrongdoing by the celebrities.
Chrysler is reportedly seeking to reclaim company money it alleges Australian-born Campbell spent with businesses controlled or owned by himself and his wife Simone.
It alleges corporate funds were used either directly or indirectly to pay for a golf and spa holiday in New Zealand, a $400,000 yacht, a plane, and trips to New Orleans and Rio de Janero
The Australian newspaper reported this week an initial interlocutory hearing at the Federal Court in Melbourne has been postponed until June 16.
Campbell’s Melbourne solicitor Sam Bond has described the allegations as “ not only completely denied but considered scandalous".
But lawyers for Fiat Chrysler are seeking to freeze Campbell’s bank accounts, shareholdings and other properties and assets he and his wife own in Europe and New Zealand.
Campbell is no longer involved with Fiat Chrysler New Zealand, a private company he set up in partnership with Australasian car importer Neville Crichton, after he left Fiat Chrysler Australia.
The two were equal partners in the business until May, when Crichton took complete control of the company, as accusations against Campbell emerged.
A statement from Mr Crichton’s Ateco Group says: “Fiat Chrysler New Zealand is now a wholly-owned subsidiary or the Ateco Group. As soon as the company became aware of the accusations a mutually agreed settlement was reached. Clyde Campbell has no involvement and no interest in Ateco.
“Fiat Chrysler New Zealand is now operating as business as usual, as is the Ram trucks project.”
Ateco announced plans earlier this year to import American Ram trucks, convert them to right-hand drive, to sell in the New Zealand and Australian markets.