GM accuses former director of leaking information to Fiat

The General Motors company is suing a former board member after it claimed to have leaked confidential information to a rival company and United Auto Workers, an auto manufacturer that says its labor costs have increased billions.

In a federal lawsuit filed in New Jersey this week, the company accused Joseph Ashton, a former UAS vice president, of accepting bribes from Crosstown competitor Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which at the time tried to force GM to merge was doing. Mr. Ashton served as a director at GM at the time of the merger advances, which later went public.

Mr. Ashton’s lawyer, Jerome Ballaretto of New Jersey, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Fiat Chrysler described GM’s widespread allegations of bribing GM executives involved in other litigation, meritless and said they were an attempt to hurt the company’s reputation.

In its lawsuit, GM stated that Fiat Chrysler used offshore bank accounts to bribe Mr. Ashton in exchange for confidential information, including his role as a GM board member. The former UAW officer served on GM’s board from 2014 to 2017.

Mr. Ashton also accused Fiat Chrysler of taking bribes during the trial, when he served as the UAV’s chief labor negotiator with GM. GM said Fiat Chrysler paid Mr Ashton to negotiate a tougher deal with GM in labor negotiations.

GM’s lawsuit states that GM was forced to spend billions of dollars in labor costs due to Ashton’s ineptitude and breach of trust.

The lawsuit is an extension of a broader effort by GM to hold Fiat Chrysler accountable for what it claims was an orchestrated attempt to harm GM.

In an unusual legal standoff against two major rivals, GM filed a misleading lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler in November, claiming that its employees bribed UAV officers to gain a competitive edge over labor costs.

GM appealed the case to the sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals after being dismissed by a federal judge in Detroit last month.

GM made similar allegations against Mr. Ashton last month, filing in court that Fiat attempted to keep its federal lawsuit against Chrysler alive.

In the lawsuit against Mr Ashton, GM named former UAW president Dennis Williams as a “key player” in Fiat Chrysler as an alleged conspiracy to merge with his larger rival. GM alleges Fiat Chrysler was also using offshore accounts to bribe Mr Williams, who was accused of embezzlement at the end of last month. Lawyers for Mr. Williams did not immediately return a request for comment.

Mr Ashton convicted a UAW officer last year for wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. He was accused of rigging UAW seller contracts in exchange for kickbacks.

Charges against Messrs. Ashton and Williams were part of a broader, multilateral federal investigation into corruption at UAVs, which has resulted in charges against 15 people.

– Nora Naughton contributed to this article.

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