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Confusion over Renault spy case


Confusion over Renault spy case


Renault is still not admitting that it might have been tricked into firing three senior managers over alleged industrial espionage.

The company’s lawyers said they are still looking into the existence of foreign bank accounts said to have been held by the three even though the police in Switzerland and Liechtenstein reportedly have said no such accounts exist.

The managers denied any wrongdoing and are suing Renault.

Renault sacked the three men and lodged a legal complaint in January over suspicions of industrial espionage targeting its high-profile electric vehicle programme, amid fears that information had been passed to a foreign power.

The possible existence of foreign bank accounts was a key part of the case against the three.

Jean Reinhart, the French carmaker’s lawyer, said in a radio interview that French intelligence services were still investigating in Switzerland and Liechtenstein to find out whether the accounts existed or not.

“Nothing has come back to us for the moment, which means that this morning we are unable to say whether we have been manipulated or not,” he said.

Renault’s Chief Operating Officer Patrick Pelata met with French Prime Minister Francois Fillon this week to discuss the case.

There were diplomatic repercussions after a government source said investigators initially looked at a possible link with China.

Renault and the government then both quickly played down the China talk.

The scandal also strained relations between the carmaker and the government as Renault is 15 percent state-owned.

It was criticised for not informing authorities of its suspicions in a timely manner and for carrying out its own investigation before telling them.

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