A decision by the Paris prosecutor involved in the supposed Renault industrial espionage case could be made this week about how to proceed.
Any move would cap a whirlwind week for Renault in which French media have speculated chief operating officer Patrick Pelata could resign if allegations in its spy case turn out to be wrong.
Renault confirmed to just-auto decisions would be taken “at the highest level” by Pelata and CEO Carlos Ghosn. Meanwhile, French industry minister Eric Besson also stepped into the debate speaking on radio station RTL and using the metaphor that the COO could offer his “head” in the affair.
A source close to the inquiry in France told just-auto any move by the Paris prosecutor could take place this week and questioned how one of the sacked three executives, Michel Balthazard – “a rigorous engineer” – could have been embroiled in the case.
“How could the name of Michel Balthazard find itself in this affair?” the French source added. “When you lose your job…see your face on television [and are] accused of spying, that is damage and suffering in material, financial and moral terms.”
“Michel Balthazard wants that Renault states – and the Paris prosecutor says -he is innocent and has nothing to do with this industrial spying. It is essential to have his innocence proclaimed…it is his honour that is important.”
Noting that Balthazard earned “a quite large salary” and was at “the peak of his career,” the source added the fired executive had a further five years before his retirement.
Mystery also continues to surround the supposed existence of bank accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
“I think there is absolutely nothing concrete with the Swiss accounts,” added the French source.