Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Netanyahu deletes tweet featuring photo of James Foley

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Read more

FOCUS

Lifting the veil over China's air pollution

Read more

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

  • Europe launches navigation satellites to rival GPS

    Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • Iraqi Sunnis quit govt talks after mosque massacre

    Read more

  • US demands Russia withdraw aid convoy from Ukraine

    Read more

  • Rights group sues US government over ‘deportation mill’

    Read more

  • Colombian army and FARC rebels begin work on ceasefire

    Read more

  • US National Guard starts to pull out of embattled Missouri town

    Read more

  • PSG fall flat once more against Evian

    Read more

  • Fed Chair says US job market still hampered by Great Recession

    Read more

  • August 22, 1914: The bloodiest day in French military history

    Read more

  • Central African Republic announces coalition cabinet

    Read more

  • Hamas publicly executes "informers"

    Read more

  • French firebrand leftist to quit party presidency, but not politics

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu set to be Erdogan's new PM

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

Europe

Renault braces for backlash in industrial spying case

Text by Sébastian SEIBT

Latest update : 2011-03-05

French car marker Renault's chief operating officer, Patrick Pelata (pictured) has expressed new doubts about claims of industrial espionage that saw three employees fired and became an affair of state.

France’s leading car manufacturer Renault may have falsely believed it was being targeted by spies, the company’s chief operating officer, Patrick Pelata, told a French newspaper on Friday. The announcement added a new twist to an industrial espionage case that has rocked Renault and sparked warnings of an “economic war” from French politicians.

Renault suspended three top managers on January 3, who were suspected of leaking industrial secrets on its electric cars to rival automakers. But in the months following, France’s intelligence agency has not been able to uncover any evidence of Renault’s claims.

In an interview published in the daily Le Figaro, Pelata said he was prepared to accept “all of the consequences” of any possible error and that, if the allegations ultimately proved unfounded, he would “propose the reinstatement of the three executives”.

France’s finance minister, Christine Lagarde, hailed Peralta’s statement as “dignified” and encouraged Renault to “quickly establish the truth, so that confidence is restored”.

Electric cars become a matter of state

Renault’s allegations of industrial espionage quickly become a top concern for the French government, with industry minister Eric Besson claiming the country was the target of an "economic war" and legislators from the ruling Union for a Popular Movement party calling for stronger laws to protect industrial secrets. The French state owns 15 percent of Renault.

After an internal Renault investigation, France’s intelligence service was ordered in early January to investigate if the company’s electric car technology was leaked to rival automakers, possibly in China. The rumours of industrial spying have been rejected by Beijing.

Botched investigation

Soon after the state’s investigation was launched, Le Canard Enchaine, a satirical weekly, called Renault’s spying claims into question. The newspaper reported that the security company hired by Renault botched the initial internal probe and had to dismiss the person in charge of the case.

Nevertheless, in a televised statement on Jan. 23, Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said he was certain that the three dismissed employees – Michel Balthazard, Bertrand Rochette and Mathieu Tenenbaum – were guilty.

A few days later, Le Canard Enchaine reported that Renault had no written record of the damning evidence. The only report, the weekly said, had been communicated to Renault by telephone.

While observers say Renault is bracing for a backlash from the case, apologies may not be enough for the former managers. All three are suing Renault over the allegations. According to the business daily Les Echos, Bertrand Rochette is asking for €2 million in compensation.

Date created : 2011-03-04

  • AUTO INDUSTRY

    French carmaker Renault cries foul over handling of industry spy case

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Sacked Renault executive accused of spying to sue for defamation

    Read more

COMMENT(S)