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Renault Apologizes in Spy Case

Senior execs under fire; wrongly accused execs to get “reparations.”

by on Mar.15, 2011

Renault COO Patrick Pelata offers to resign.

Renault’s top two execs have apologized to three other senior managers wrongfully accused in what was initially billed as a Chinese spy case – but which now appears to have been a scam by members of the French automaker’s own security team.

Renault’s second-in-command offered to resign on Monday, while authorities question a corporate security official who could reveal the details of what is now seen as an internal fraud.  Meanwhile, the three executives fired after being accused of spying are now set to receive “reparations,” according to Renault.

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The carmaker’s top two executives, Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn and Chief Operating Officer Daniel Pelata, said through a spokesperson that they “acknowledge the enormous personal harm that the (fired employees) and their families have suffered.”  As a result, “their honor in the public eye will be restored (and) reparations (will) be made.”

The mess began when Renault received an anonymous tip indicating the three managers, Michel Balthazard, Bertrand Rochette and Matthieu Tenenbaum, were secretly on the Chinese payroll and leaking information about Renault’s expansive electric vehicle program.  They were suspended on January 11, Renault claiming it had proof they were receiving “funds from a foreign source.”

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Plot Thickens in Renault Spy Case

Company security agent arrested for fraud.

by on Mar.14, 2011

Carlos Ghosn now faces both a spy scandal at Renault and the impact of the Japanese earthquake on Nissan.

The ongoing investigation into claims that Chinese spies had infiltrated the French carmaker Renault has taken another turn worthy of a pulp spy novel.

A company security agent is now facing charges of “organized fraud,” accused of inventing the claim of industrial espionage that saw three senior Renault executives come under a cloud of suspicion.  While those managers now seem totally exonerated, it is unclear if others might face charges in what is now being described as a scam.

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The latest twist could further complicate matters for Renault’s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, who came under fire for his outspoken comments early on in what was billed as a Chinese effort to tap into the French maker’s aggressive electric vehicle program.  Complicating matters personally for Ghosn, he also serves as CEO for Renault’s Japanese alliance partner, Nissan, and is now overseeing efforts to try to figure out just how much damage the Asian maker suffered as the result of last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

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