The industrial espionage scandal involving three senior Renault managers suspected of leaking confidential information about the company’s upcoming electric cars is nowhere over, as earlier today, the French automaker filed a complaint “against persons unknown for acts constituting organized industrial espionage, corruption, breach of trust, theft and concealment”.
The legal action follows an internal investigation, which revealed serious misconduct detrimental to the company and in particular to its strategic, technological and intellectual assets.
The complaint has been filed with the State Prosecutor of Paris and the automaker emphasized that the matter is now in judiciary hands, so it won’t release any further information to the public in an effort to avoid more controversy.
Without doubt, it will take a long time before this whole mess gets sorted out, but fortunately for Renault, it seems that nothing crucial has been leaked - or at least that's what the company claims.
This past weekend, the French automaker said some information might have been disclosed on the costs and economic model of the EV program, but not the technology itself, including some two hundred, very important patents.
“It's serious, but not as bad as if it had been the technology”, said Chief Operating Officer Patrick Pelata in an interview. "Whether it's the chemistry of the electrodes, the structure of the batteries, the different elements of assembling, be it the charger or the engine itself, we feel ok", he added.
That means the jointly developed EV project with Nissan, in which the two companies are investing €200 million (US $263.4 million) a year, is on schedule.
“We have not lost one day to launch our four electric cars”, Mr. Pelata commented.
At the same time, French media reported that Industry Minister Eric Besson has played down the Chinese link, saying that he couldn’t confirm anything for now.
However, this wasn’t enough to satisfy the Chinese government, which, according to a Bloomberg report, denied involvement in the case.
“The accusations are baseless and irresponsible, and the Chinese side cannot accept them,” said Hong Lei, a spokesman’s for the foreign ministry.
By Csaba Daradics
Sources: Renault, Reuters , Bloomberg