Mother is a well-respected ad agency with offices in London, New York and Buenos Aires. Another noteable detail about Mother is that Pernilla Ammann is a partner and COO of Mother New York. That's important, because Mrs. Ammann's husband is General Motors CFO Dan Ammann. Neither point stands out on its own, but General Motors spent $600,000 with Mother to create webisodes in support of the 100th birthday of Chevrolet, and that's gotten the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commision.

It appears that the Ammanns neglected to bring the potential conflict of interest to their respective employers, since GM is saying it's only "recently learned about" the connection. Mother isn't currently doing any work for General Motors, and the automaker says that the work Mother did was beneficial to the company, and that CEO Dan Akerson and general counsel have given the deal a post-hoc ratification. As Chief Operating Officer of Mother New York, Mrs. Ammann knows what's going on with all of the office's people, participates in contract negotiations, and would certainly have been aware of a job coming over the transom from General Motors.

Despite its late-in-coming seal of approval, GM admits that some procedures were overlooked. The SEC may not smile as kindly on this whiff of nepotism, what with GM blessing the barn long after the horse had already galloped off toward the meadow.

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