Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has traded charges in Australian federal court with its former Australian CEO.

According to a Reuters report, he denied breaching his legal duties and said he acted on instructions from above after a lawsuit by the carmaker accused him of excessive spending and illegally enriching himself through commercial deals.

Fiat’s civil lawsuit accuses Clyde Anthony Campbell, the local CEO from 2010 to 2013, of breaching the law and his contract by giving cars to celebrities and inflating contracts to benefit his financial interests.

According to the report, in a defence filed with the court, Campbell denied breaching his legal duties and said Chrysler Asia Pacific CEO John Kett and other senior company officials had approved his actions. He said he was told the company “would pull out of the market for right hand drive vehicles if he didn’t increase sales to 20,000 per year within three years and they didn’t care how he did it”.

Fiat Chrysler announced last week that Kett was leaving the company to pursue other interests and made no reference to the Campbell suit, Reuters noted.

The Fiat Chrysler lawsuit, claiming unspecified damages, said Campbell failed to act in the best interests of the company by using company money to buy Chrysler cars for sports stars and the (now former) girlfriend of one. The claim made no suggestion that any were aware of any wrongdoing.

The suit said Campbell committed to an “uncommercial and detrimental” contract with one sportsman by agreeing to give him A$1m (US$730,000) a year and two current model Jeeps to be a brand ambassador. The contract was expanded in 2013.

The car maker also accused Campbell of agreeing to a series of contracts which benefited companies in which he or his friends had financial interests and of charging his employer for services that were not carried out and using the money to help pay for a boat and a plane.

In his defense, Campbell denied using company funds to buy a boat and a plane and denied breaching his legal duties as chief executive, Reuters reported.

Earlier report here