More details have come out about the legal suit and countersuit being contested between Lotus cars owner DRB-Hicom and former CEO of Lotus Dany Bahar. Bahar was brought in by Malaysian car company Proton in 2009 to turn Lotus around, and events during his tenure have made just about everyone wonder “What’s going on?” That’s not unusual – it can take a minute to figure things out when a new leader takes everything in a new direction – but in this case the clouds didn’t clear quickly enough.
When the Malaysian government sold Proton to Malaysian auto supplier DRB-Hicom earlier this year, a forensic accounting team from Ernst & Young and The Rothschild Group started going over the books. Not long after, Bahar was suspended in June from his position and then fired. In his countersuit against DRB-Hicom, claims of lavish spending began to surface. Then the stories and leaks and rumors really began, the UK’s Financial Mail reporting on more than one million pounds spent on private flights and home renovations, the New Zealand Herald talking about other executives sacked so that DRB could rearrange a 270-million-pound bank loan to Lotus, and rumors on forums about Bahar flying from his home in Norfolk to Hethel HQ and spending 30,000 pounds on motorsports books for his office.
In the latest Bloomberg report it is said that DRB-Hicom seeks 2.5 million pounds ($4 million US) from Bahar “for unauthorized expenses and overpaid salary and bonuses,” including the purported expense of 3,000 pounds on watches for company managers. DRB-Hicom also says Bahar made damaging statements to the media, on top of breaching his contractual duties. Bahar’s countersuit seeks $10.6 million from DRB-Hicom.
Steve Davies at SkiddMark.com has written an excellent, reasoned piece on the other less-salacious issues of contention between DRB-Hicom, Bahar and the consortium of banks that made the 270-million-pound loan. It will probably be a while longer, if ever, before we really know what happened inside the walls of Hethel to get matters to this point.