Thursday, March 17, 2011, 3/17/2011 10:43:00 AM

"Never Mind . . . . " Renault Exonerates Three Accused, and Terminated, Employees Finding No Evidence of Trade Secret Misappropriation

By Todd

Gilda Radner used to have a character named "Emily Litella" who used to go on and on and then realize she was way off base. Here's an example:

"What is all this fuss I hear about the Supreme Court decision on a "deaf" penalty? It's terrible! Deaf people have enough problems as it is!"

The news anchor interrupts Litella to point out her error: "That's death, Ms. Litella, not deaf ... death."
Litella would wrinkle her nose, say something like, "Oh, that's very different...." then meekly turn to the camera and say, "Never mind."

Well, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that French car maker Renault SA said Monday it has exonerated three executives who it accused of leaking sensitive proprietary information and fired because an investigation by French authorities found no evidence of the alleged wrongdoing. In fact, Renault admits the three are entirely innocent.
In a statement, Renault said its top two executives Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn and vice chairman Patrick Paleta will personally apologize to the three and that reparations will be made. Given the enormous media attention Renault's charges of industrial espionage generated, it's likely the payments for damage done to the three men's reputations will mount well into the millions. In order to address that financial hit — and accept moral responsibility for having aired the company's mistaken accusations — Ghosn said he and any other managers "who from near or afar were involved in this affair" would renounce the bonuses they were granted for 2010 (Ghosn's bonus alone was $2.2 million) as well as 2011 stock options earned. And while Ghosn expressed his willingness to have the wrongly dismissed men returned to their jobs — two of the three say they might consider the offer once damages are paid — he rebuffed calls that he and his chief operating officer, Patrick Pélata, resign over the matter.
Time is reporting that French investigators continue to look into what they believe was an inside scam to swindle the company out of what could be a surprisingly modest amount of money. The main target of those suspicions: the head of Renault's own security division, who lead the internal inquiry against his three colleagues.
This isn't over, folks.


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