A further extraordinary twist in the Renault industrial espionage saga has seen one of the sacked executives claim he was spirited to Switzerland to examine supposed bank accounts.
Widespread speculation in France has pointed to the existence of the Swiss accounts, but the executive in question, Bertrand Rochette, says, despite Renault organising the trip, the matter appeared to be quietly dropped when in Switzerland.
Rochette’s bizarre journey began when Renault security staff asked him in an interview about the supposed accounts.
“These discussions indicated I had a Swiss bank account into which I would have levied money – which seemed to me completely incredible,” said Rochette on French radio today (25 January).
“Obviously my reflex was to say ‘let’s go to Switzerland when you want’. I did not organise it. The Renault security people moreover, after a moment of astonishment on their part, contacted me the next morning and said we would travel to Switzerland.”
Rochette said once in Switzerland, he had hoped to see if the account existed, how it would have been opened and who could have opened it in his name.
Here details become a little vague, with Renault declining to comment on the Swiss trip in any way at all or how they would gain access to any accounts, which famously remain highly private.
“I waited the whole morning and they [security people] reappeared just before lunch to tell me the mission was cancelled,” said Rochette. “It was only after my return that I therefore realised I had to defend myself and I turned to lawyers.”
When asked by just-auto about the Swiss trip, Renault resolutely refused to comment. “We have said the matter is in the hands of justice,” a spokesman in Paris said.
“M Rochette and who else can do what they want – Renault has no more commentary.”