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Ousted Mercedes Exec Fights Back

Lieb to refute ethics charges.

by on Dec.28, 2011

Former MBUSA bost Ernst Lieb at the 2010 New York International Auto Show.

Ernst Lieb, the U.S. Chief Executive fired last October for allegedly violating Mercedes-Benz ethics policies plans to refute the charges in a German court.

The popular former executive claims, through his attorney, that he did not misuse company funds – and will fight to reverse his dismissal.

“None of the accusations are justified. And we will prove that,” attorney Stefan Naegele told Automotive News.

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The firing, he insisted, was the result of an unfair crackdown by Mercedes’ parent, Daimler AG, which has been struggling to prove that it no longer tolerates the ethical lapses that cost it $185 million in a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department in 2010.


Lieb’s Ouster Underscores Ethics Crackdown at Daimler

Ethics issues no longer ignored, will other senior officials be tripped up?

by on Oct.21, 2011

Ernst Lieb introducing the then-new Mercedes-Benz ML450 at the 2009 New York Auto Show.

The rules have changed and, as a result, so have some of the players, it seems – a crackdown on ethics snagging one of the big fish at Daimler AG, former Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Ernst Lieb.

Lieb was unceremoniously dismissed from his job after he was warned about financial indiscretions, including using corporate funds for to pay for household help and golf-club memberships for his wife, according to an investigation by – as well as additional reports coming out of Europe.

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Lieb was removed despite compiling a solid record of sales success, over the past few years, in an extremely competitive market.  He apparently had received prior warnings over his lax attitude towards expense reimbursements but failed to recognize that Daimler was no longer willing to wink and nod at such violations.

The parent of Mercedes-Benz, Maybach and Smart now goes to great lengths to remain above reproach following a series of scandals that both hurt its image and cost it a significant amount of cash.


Why Did Mercedes Blow Out U.S. CEO?

Ouster of Ernst Lieb a deepening mystery – but one creating problems for the German maker.

by on Oct.19, 2011

The mystery of Ernst Lieb's ouster deepens - while also creating headaches for Mercedes.

The unexpected ouster of Ernst Lieb, the popular – and seemingly successful – CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA has created far more questions than answers, a deepening mystery in an industry where secrets are seldom held for long.

After word leaked out that the 56-year-old German executive would be relieved of his duties – “effective immediately” – there were none of the usual corporate press releases indicating Lieb might be looking to “pursue other opportunities,” the traditionally gentle way to say carmaker and car executive have parted company.

Instead, even company insiders say they are in the dark and wondering what might have led to Lieb’s sudden departure at a time when Mercedes is gaining both sales and market share in its bitter battle with traditional rivals BMW and Lexus.

The unexpected departure is clearly creating headaches for Mercedes just as it enters the 2012 model-year with new products like the redesigned C-Class.  An upcoming meeting with dealers to discuss strategy for the new year has been indefinitely postponed.

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A number of possible explanations are being floated for the sudden firing, including a dicey move authorized by Lieb meant to bolster September sales numbers, a decision to invest heavily in sports marketing, and – according to a report from Germany – Lieb’s inappropriate use of his corporate expense account.  But one source apparently in the know insists that the ouster has “nothing to do with business,” and was entirely a “personal” matter.