Tuesday, January 11, 2011, 1/11/2011 09:57:00 AM

Renault Suspends Three Executives in China, Claiming They Passed Secrets to the Chinese

By Todd

Bloomberg is reporting that Renault believes it has fallen victim to an “organized, international ring” that passed on vehicle designs and commercial data, Chief Operating Officer Patrick Pelata said in an interview published Jan. 9 in Le Monde and confirmed by the company. Battery technologies “appear” to be safe, he said.

It is also reporting that China rejected media reports linking its companies to a suspected leak of Renault's electric-car secrets that led to the suspension of three senior executives by the French automaker. Renault has said its next step will be to interview the three suspended executives prior to the possible termination of their employment. The meetings may take place today, Les Echos reported, citing union sources.

The highest-ranking of the accused Renault managers is Michel Balthazard, a vice president for long-term product development who is on the 27-member management committee chaired by Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn, two people with knowledge of the matter said Jan. 5.

Another suspended executive, Matthieu Tenenbaum, previously worked at Nissan before overseeing development of four battery- powered Renault models as deputy head of its electric-vehicle program.

Tenenbaum has received no explanation for his suspension, his lawyer Thibault de Montbrial said in a telephone interview.

“He can’t defend himself because he doesn’t even know what he’s accused of,” Montbrial said. “He obviously denies being a Chinese spy. The accusation would be ridiculous if it weren’t so serious.”

We'll keep an eye on this one for you.


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