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Hertz Says Research Firm Defamed It on CNBC

HACKENSACK, N.J. (CN) - Audit Integrity's CEO defamed Hertz Global Holdings on CNBC by stating that Hertz is among 20 major companies most likely to go bankrupt because of its fraudulent financial reporting, the rental-car business owner claims in Bergen County Superior Court.

In September, Audit Integrity and CEO Jack Zwingli allegedly issued a press release stating that several companies, including Hertz, have "potential for fraudulent reporting of financial statements." Audit Integrity is an independent research firm that evaluates companies' transparency, reliability and risks.

To promote the report, Zwingli went on CNBC and spread the message that Hertz "lacks integrity, lies to shareholders and others, engages in fraudulent financial reporting, and is heading for bankruptcy," the lawsuit states.

"Defendants made these false statements knowing how defamatory and disruptive such charges can be to a publicly traded company," Hertz adds.

Hertz says the accusations were unfounded, as Hertz could always "sell some of its fleet and use the proceeds to reduce its debt" should the demand for car rentals dry up.

Zwingli knowingly ignored the consensus of investment analysts and the rental car industry, which is "completely at odds" with his statements, the suit claims.

Hertz wants Audit Integrity and Zwingli to pay actual and punitive damages for defamation and trade libel. CNBC is not named as a defendant.

The plaintiff is represented by Thomas Campion with Drinker Biddle & Reath of Florham Park, N.J.

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