Spy scandal hits France's Renault

Renault said in an emailed statement on Thursday that the matter concerned people in "particularly strategic" positions within the company.

Spy scandal hits France's Renault

The suspected industrial espionage that has led French carmaker Renault to suspend three executives, including a management committee member, is a "serious" matter, industry minister Eric Besson told RTL radio.

Renault suspended three executives on Monday after an "ethical alert" was sent to the group's compliance committee in August, and a source told Reuters the company is worried about a possible threat to its flagship electric vehicle programme.

"All I can tell you is that the matter seems serious, that it illustrates once again the risks our companies face in terms of industrial espionage, and economic intelligence, as we call it today," Besson said on Thursday.

"It is an overall risk for French industry," Besson said. "The expression 'economic warfare', sometimes extreme, is appropriate and this is something we should monitor in future," he added.

Renault said in an emailed statement on Thursday that the matter concerned people in "particularly strategic" positions within the company.

"This investigation, which has lasted several months, has allowed us to identify an array of related elements showing that the behaviour of these three employees was opposed to Renault's code of ethics, and consciously and deliberately put at risk company assets," Renault said.

The three executives could be dismissed soon if they are found to have leaked information, two sources told Reuters on Thursday.

"The internal investigation is continuing, but a decision should be made in the coming days," said one source. "In nine out of ten cases, suspension (without pay) of this kind, is followed by a dismissal," he said.

A second source said: "Suspension of this kind (without pay) never lasts very long. I think unfortunately in the days to come, next week, action will be taken, if action is to be taken."

He added: "For the moment they have been accused, they have not been judged, they are suspected."

Renault, with its Japanese alliance partner Nissan Motor Co Ltd, is a fierce proponent of EV technology, with the companies jointly investing 4 billion euros ($5.3 billion) in their flagship EV programmes.

France has for some years been worried about potential attacks on its industrial secrets and even has a "school of economic warfare" aimed at rooting out economic subversion.

Since the 1990s, governments have equally promoted the art of "economic intelligence" as a legal means of anticipating threats or stealing a march on trade rivals.


Last Mod: 06 Ocak 2011, 16:40
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