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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Arrest in Renault spy fiasco

A further arrest has been made in a spying scandal that has seriously damaged the reputation of Renault.

The move comes after an investigation by French police concluded that three of Renault’s top executives, fired in January after being accused of selling information on the brand’s electric car programme, are completely innocent.

Private investigator Michel Luc has been charged with fraud and criminal conspiracy. According to the police he received more than €300,000 from Renault’s own security unit for information showing that the three executives had been paid to sell secret information about the electric car programme.

Police have concluded that the information was falsified. Earlier this month Renault’s own security agent Dominique Gevrey was charged with fraud, police saying he had taken money intended for the informant and put it in a Swiss bank account.

Renault has fully accepted that its three executives are innocent. They have all been offered their jobs back and the manufacturer is trying to organise compensation.

At one point during the scandal there were suggestions that the information was being passed to China. The clearing of the three executives led to a national outcry particularly amongst the French Government, Renault’s biggest shareholder.

Some have called for Renault head Carlos Ghosn and his deputy Patrick Pelata to go – Pelata offered his resignation but Ghosn refused to accept it.

Both have turned down bonuses due to them, but only last week French ministers were still calling for heads to roll. “We cannot just let this pass – There will have to be consequences for the incredible amateurism,” said Budget Minister Francois Baroin.

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