Lotus Group chief executive Dany Bahar has been suspended by the new Malaysian owners of Group Lotus.

DRB-Hicom said in a statement that the move followed an operational review, with Bahar temporarily suspended from his role in order "to facilitate an investigation into a complaint about his conduct" made by DRB-Hicom Berhad.

Media reports are speculating that the suspension has arisen due to Bahar's expense claims. Some industry observers suggest that the move by DRB-Hicom is primarily a political one to oust Bahar from his post amid a lack of support from Malaysian bankers and within DRB-Hicom for Bahar's ambitious five-year growth strategy.

In Mr Bahar’s absence, representatives of Lotus’ parent companies Dato’ Lukman Ibrahim, Mr Mohd Khalid Yusof and Mr Aslam Farikullah have been authorised by Group Lotus’ board to handle and conduct the day to day management and affairs of the Lotus Group. The statement added: “They will be assisted by Mr Rusman Zaihan. They have been authorised to take up these duties during the suspension period.”

A spokesman for DRB-HICOM Berhad said: “The penultimate holding company would like to stress it is business as usual at Lotus. We fully support the company and will continue to support Lotus in its business endeavours and development.”

Malaysia-based DRB-Hicom, a car distributor and assembler, assumed control of Lotus earlier this year when it acquired parent Proton. Amid speculation that it may look to sell Lotus, DRB-Hicom has been conducting an extensive review of Lotus operations.