[Editor's Note: Karen Pease has developed many personal relationships with people inside and out of Aptera over the years. She's been able to get the best picture we've seen so far of the quirky EV manufacturer's troubles from her inside sources. In most cases names and identifying specifics have been withheld at the source's request to protect their livelihood.]
How did a woman who the Securities and Exchange Commission says planned one of the largest accounting frauds in US history end up as Chief Financial Officer of Aptera Motors?
It’s just one of many questions swirling around what appears to be a meltdown in progress at the beleaguered manufacturer of safe, hyper-efficient electric vehicles (see the posts here, and here if you don’t know what’s going on).
When a business is running smoothly, there are strong incentives for everyone to be a team player and hide any signs of internal strife. However, as the rate of layoffs and “vacations” has increased over at Aptera, so has the potential for leaks. And sometimes a simple name can take you places you never thought you’d go.
Laura Marion is Aptera’s CFO. By their ‘Team’ webpage, you’d think that her career in finance began at Specialty Vehicle Acquisition Corp. Yet she only started work there in 2007. Where was her “15 years of finance” spent? From her resume, it appears that since 2006, she hasn’t held a single job more than a year.
The reason is that in 2006, Laura Marion was cited by the SEC for her role in one of the largest accounting frauds in US history at Delphi.
Delphi is one of the world’s largest automotive parts manufacturers. According to the SEC complaint, in Q4 2000, employees wrote Marion a handwritten note stating that they had been instructed by a member of senior management to “maximize the financial engineering relating to [precious metals], cores, and batteries.” Over the next several years, Marion edited, reviewed, and drafted documents to present inventory exchanges as sales, grossly overstating the company’s profits. In order to save Delphi’s creditors the cost of litigation and in recognition of Delphi’s cooperation, the SEC settled out of court with those charged. Marion paid a $40,000 fine for her role.
How on Earth did such a person end up as Aptera’s CFO? Two words: Paul Wilbur.