Dealer files lawsuit against Hyundai chief over alleged kickback demand

Photo: Marián Birošík, Public Domain

The second-biggest car maker in the Czech Republic, Hyundai, finds itself in the spotlight after its largest dealership in the country, Hyundai-Fischer CZ, launched legal action against the auto producer’s local boss, whom it accuses of corrupt practices.

Photo: Marián Birošík, Public Domain
According to media reports, Hyundai-Fischer CZ, which is based in České Budějovice, has filed a lawsuit against Vladimír Vošický, managing director of Hyundai in the Czech Republic.

The dealership accuses Mr. Vošický of blackmail and has started a large campaign to have him removed.

On Tuesday Hyundai-Fischer CZ’s owner Anton Fischer organised a loud demonstration in front of Hyundai’s Prague head office that included billboards demanding “Vladimír, stand down!” being placed outside the premises. Cars with the same slogans were parked outside.

Mr. Fischer says he ceased selling new Hyundais last month after failing to qualify for bonuses normally paid by HQ. He says dealers have no alternative but to sell the cars at a loss and hope they subsequently make a profit through bonuses for meeting the manufacturer’s sales plans.

According to Mr. Fischer’s lawsuit, Hyundai HQ imposed an unrealistic increase of more than 30 percent in the sales plans for his four showrooms.

Then, it states, Mr. Vošický demanded a kickback in the form of 25 percent of the bonuses. He is alleged to have done so in June on a trip to Iceland for top dealers to watch the Czech national soccer team in action.

“I did not take the demand seriously in view of Vladimír Vošický’s wholly distinctive sense of humour,” says Mr. Fischer in the document, which was quoted by the news site.

The latter – who is calling on other dealers to follow his lead in suspending sales of Hyundai vehicles – says he has an SMS message that will support his assertions.

For his part, Mr. Vošický (who has headed Hyundai since 2010 after a previous stint with Peugeot) categorically denies the allegation, saying that the company is planning legal action of its own against Mr. Fischer in the coming days.

The Hyundai chief said he would not make any more statements to the media as it was neither possible nor normal to discuss business conditions between too entities in public.

The Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises has come out on the side of Mr. Fischer. The manner in which Hyundai behaves towards dealers who have long invested in its brand is wholly at odds with the ethics that, paradoxically, Hyundai demands of its dealers, the association’s chairman Karel Havlíček said.

Hyundai was the second largest producer of cars in the Czech Republic last year. The South Korean firm is planning to produce a third of a million vehicles (around 25,000 more than in 2014) at its Nošovice plant in Moravia in 2015.