Sure it was that link they were referring to?
That's a bit of a different issue. Keyword links between two unrelated sites is clearly for SEO purposes and that was always going to be a problem.
But interlinking a network of sites that you own using the site names as links or linking up to a group site is fair play.
One of my clients runs several websites - the main one a car dealership, and three others for luxury brand cars. They all interlink every page from main to sub and sub up to main (using the company brand as the link text). No issues with that whatsoever.
SEOs being scared to link their sites together is as old a concern as the industry itself, but it doesn't need to be if done correctly.