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February 25, 2011updated 08 Apr 2021 8:16am

FRANCE: Renault espionage case “score settling” says lawyer

A lawyer representing one of Renault's sacked executives allegedly involved in its espionage case, is maintaining the affair is linked to score settling within the automaker, following the leak of a letter alledging bribe taking.

A lawyer representing one of Renault ‘s sacked executives allegedly involved in its espionage case, is maintaining the affair is linked to score settling within the automaker, following the leak of a letter alledging bribe taking. France has been swept up in a frenzy of speculation as to the identity – and purpose – of a letter – reportedly to Renault management – that has been leaked and at least in part republished outlining the supposed taking of bribes – but it remains unclear just how much of the document has been leaked.

There is repeated mention in the document, whose origin remains unknown, of the word ‘corbeau’ or raven, which appears to indicate a sender of anonymous letters.

The letter writer apparently says that he or she finds it “inadmissible” that people can profit from their position to accept bribes.

But Maitre Thibault de Montbrial, representing one of the sacked executives, Mathieu Tenenbaum, has immediately fired a salvo back on French radio, hinting at internal forces within Renault who are looking to settle scores.

“Reading the letter line by line reinforces our suspicion…that all this story is an internal settling of accounts in Renault , at the heart of which are the security services, which, one day or the other, and probably more quickly than we think, will have to give back these accounts.”

And a lawyer acting for the third executive, Michel Balthazard, has also dismissed the letter as containing no useful element or alludes to information surrounding electric vehicles – one of the supposed areas of concern.

“It is a document that astonishes us,” said Maitre Thouvenin, also speaking on French radio. “[There is] no information concerning electric vehicles, no information concerning technical elements.

“We don’t understand how this matter started from this letter.”

Further speculation in France also notes that supposed Swiss bank accounts do not exist.

Earlier in the tortuous saga, a further fired executive, Bertrand Rochette, maintains he was taken to Switzerland by Renault to discuss the alleged accounts, but that the automaker abruptly cancelled the “mission.”

It is not clear how much of the letter has been made public and whether any detail has been withheld for whatever reason. For its part, Renault is declining to comment on the letter, apart from to note: “We saw a lot of information in the media.”

The manufacturer has started a a judicial investigation into the supposed industrial espionage alleging corruption, theft and concealment. Last month, the company claimed the three sacked executives, who it has not named, deliberately endangered the company’s assets.

“We are waiting for the results that the Paris Prosecutor will give, soon we hope,” a Renault spokeswoman told just-auto from Paris.”All the information going on right now is not official.

“Even the Paris Prosecutor did not react, so we are not going to react.”

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