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France

French carmaker Renault cries foul over handling of industry spy case

Video by Siobhán SILKE

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-01-27

Investigations into allegations of industrial espionage at French carmaker Renault have put the industry giant at odds with France’s spy agency, according to media reports.

France’s Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (DCRI) is leaking information about the alleged industrial espionage case at Renault to the press and hurting the carmaker’s image, according to the company’s lawyer.

“The counter-intelligence [agency] is transmitting information that is useless, coarse and that harms Renault’s image, in a general sense,” Jean Reinhart told France Info radio in an interview broadcast on Wednesday. Reinhart said only the DCRI was in possession of certain information linked to the high-profile case, which has been reported by the media.

The company’s lawyer suggested that the DCRI was leaking information about the company as payback for being kept out of Renault’s initial internal investigation into potential sharing of electrical car secrets by some of its employees.

DCRI refused to comment on Reinhart’s statements, and insisted it was following the instructions of the state prosecutor’s office.

In his first interview since the spying case made headlines, Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn told French media on Sunday that the company had launched an internal probe in August, but waited until this month to alert the authorities because "we had to do preliminary research ourselves to get an idea of how serious the affair was."

He also insisted their internal investigation was “faultless under the law,” and that every element related to the case had been communicated and handed over to the French authorities.

French media reported in early January that President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office had asked the DCRI to investigate a possible Chinese link in the industrial espionage case, while French Industry Minister Eric Besson claimed the country was the target of "economic war".

Search and seizure at Renault

Counter-intelligence officers conducted a search and seizure operation at Renault’s offices in the town of Guyancourt, near the French capital, overnight on Tuesday, daily Le Parisien reported.

The newspaper said the action was aimed at confiscating the computers of the three Renault executives who were fired over the spying allegations.

The employees have denied sharing company secrets with competitors and have filed countersuits of their own claiming defamation.

Renault and its Japanese partner Nissan have staked a big part of their future on the success of electric cars, investing a reported 4 billion euros in this technology.
 

Date created : 2011-01-26

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