Renault "espionage case" turns out to be fraud-based hoax

14:33, March 16, 2011      

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The so-called "foreign espionage" case involving three executives at the French automaker Renault turned out to be a hoax based on an internal fraud, local media reported on Tuesday.

Renault fell victim to the cheating plot by a former intelligence agent now working for the carmaker, who fabricated the story of the three executives selling "company secrets" in a high-profile electric vehicle program to some foreign countries, and demanded 924,000 euros (1.29 million U.S. dollars) from Renault for "further information," local daily newspaper Le Figaro quoted a Paris prosecutor as saying.

In remarks published on the Europe 1 website, Jean-Claude Marin, the Paris prosecutor, said the accusations of "industrial espionage" were replaced by "a possible fraud" charge following initial investigation.

"The (alleged) bank accounts (abroad) of (the three) Renault executives do not exist, which allowed us ... to renounce a number of assumptions," explained Marin.

On the private TV channel TF1, Carlos Ghosn, Renault's Chief Executive Officer, said late on Monday that the auto company was a victim of an internal fraud, and that the previous allegations of those executives spying for foreign powers were made on a wrong basis.

"I was wrong. We were wrong. Following the conclusions of the prosecutor of Paris ... we have been deceived," Ghosn said while offering apologies.

According to local media reports, Dominique Gevrey, one of Renault's security chiefs, was arrested on Sunday for organized fraud, and an investigation is underway to identify possible accomplices.

The three wrongly-accused senior Renault executives -- Bertrand Rochette, Matthieu Tenenbaum and Michel Balthazar -- were fired early this year. They have insisted their innocence and filed a suit for false accusation and defamation.

Source: Xinhua

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