Heads Roll at Renault over Industrial Espionage Case that Embarrassed French Government. Pélata, Ghosn Survive


False charges from the top two Renault executives in an industrial spying case cost three their jobs.

As a result what it deemed of failures and dysfunctions within the company, the Board of Directors of Renault today erected the corporate equivalent of a guillotine outside of Paris that saw the firings of Remy Pagnie, Director of Group Security, as well as his two co-workers, Dominique Gevrey and Marc Tixador.

However, Patrick Pélata, Chief Operating Officer of Renault, was spared after the special board meeting and will continue to manage current operations until he leaves Renault for an as yet unspecified position inside the Renault-Nissan alliance. Carlos Ghosn also emerges with his head intact, remaining as CEO of Renault. 

In March a French prosecutor said that three executives dismissed by Renault early this year are innocent of claims in a now infamous the Renault industrial spy case that allegedly had the executives depositing payments into bank accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

The French government, which owns 15% of Renault, was embarrassed since it had not been informed of the alleged spying or of the firings before Renault went public in January. The government began its own investigation with DCRI (Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence) for what remains an ongoing inquiry.

The bank accounts did not exist, and the prosecutor left the impression that Renault was conned by Gevrey, who made the accusations and received large amounts of money to investigate. Millions of Euros in payments and or pending bills are involved over charges that future product plans, including those of electric vehicles that Renault and Nissan are betting on, had been compromised.

Ghosn yet again today said to the Board how much he regrets this “dysfunctioning,” as well as his intention of drawing all the appropriate consequences for the proper running of Renault. He also updated d the Board on the progress of the negotiations with the three executives who were unjustly dismissed. The ultimate compensation is likely to be huge since Renault is hardly in a position to take a hard line in the negotiations after its improper – critics call it outrageous and illegal – conduct.

The Renault Board admitted to three main errors made by the company in the industrial espionage matter:

  • Keeping the official departments responsible in the dark, whereas espionage was involved
  • Termination of employees on the basis of unsupported accusations which they were unable to answer
  • Internal and external communications leaving no room for doubt over a period of several weeks

Renault’s board of directors previously approved sanctions against CEO Carlos Ghosn and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Pélata, as well as other involved senior managers that canceled their 2010 bonuses and 2011 stock options because of false charges of industrial spying.

(See also Ghosn, Pélata, others Lose Bonus over Renault Spy Case and Renault Spy Case Executive Firings Wrong Prosecutor Says. French Government Investigations Continue into the Fraud )

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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