Days after Renault fired three men and pressed criminal charges on them for allegedly attempting to sell electric car secrets overseas, CEO Carlos Ghosn is facing a disturbing lack of evidence, embarrassing Renault into reconsidering its accusations.
The entire dramatic episode is becoming a farce—like BP during the Gulf oil spill, Renault may be faced with a new round of replacement executives. Chief operating officer Patrick Pélata told a French newspaper that “a certain number of factors lead us to doubt” the accusations that it had made. Key evidence is missing, such as the bank accounts that the three men had supposedly used in the spying operation. Renault’s own investigators looking into the case have divulged little information on their findings, if any.
To make matters even more complicated, the three men have fought back, suing Renault for defamation and reaching out to the media. They are part of senior management in Renault’s electric car program (that it shares with Nissan) and have been with the company for years, even decades. And they are maintaining their innocence, believing that they were fired without the company even looking for evidence to match the accusations.
Was Renault the victim of a con man, who played on the company’s fears by accusing it of being spied upon? The French government is understandably angry at the whole affair, as the state owns 15 percent of the company. The entire case will only get messier from here, and few people—including Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s wonder boy—are safe.
[Source: New York Times]