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Out in the open: BMW accused of industrial spying

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Out in the open: BMW accused of industrial spying


A rather unusual industrial spying story was reported in French newspaper Le Figaro on September 10: two BMW sub-contractors from the P3 Group were arrested on September 5 for carrying out suspicious tests on car terminals designed to recharge the Bolloré Group’s electric cars throughout Paris. The P3 Group is a German engineering firm, which is currently preparing the worldwide launch of its new I3 electric car.

Autolib’, the car-sharing service, has taken the the P3 Group to court in Paris for “abuse of trust”, “intrusion into an automised data system” and “degradation”. Prior to their arrest in the 17th arrondissement, the two German technicians had apparently been seen intervening with the Autolib’ terminals on several occasions during the summer. According to Le Figaro, the two men were placed in custody for 24 hours by the team investigating information technology fraud (Befti) within the Parisian police force.

On September 7, BMW France wrote an email of apology to the Bolloré Group’s president, Vincent Bolloré. In the email, which was reprinted in Le Figaro, the French branch of BMW alludes to “benign and non-intrusive tests”, “ordered by our parent company as a form of verification before the launch of a vehicle.”

When questioned by Le Figaro, BMW France denied all counts of spying and affirmed that, on the day of their arrest, the P3 Group employees were working for another manufacturer.

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