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FRANCE: Renault boss turns down Pelata resignation offer

By Simon Warburton | 15 March 2011

Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has refused to accept the resignation of chief operating officer Patrick Pelata following the exoneration of the automaker's three sacked executives yesterday (14 March).

The COO offered to resign at an extraordinary board meeting convened in Paris yesterday, but the move was blocked by Ghosn who apologised to Michel Balthazard, Bertrand Rochette and Mathieu Tenenbaum, who were wrongly accused of industrial espionage.

Ghosn presented the full board - that included representatives from Japan - with the findings of the French prosecutor who has been conducting an investigation into the case of three employees terminated for alleged wrongdoing. All three were completely cleared.

The focus now appears to be turning towards an investigation carried out by France's Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (DCRI), whose findings point to organised fraud involving at least one Renault employee.

The Renault CEO also presented the board with several actions to take, namely: Offering to reinstate or compensate all three employees accused and wrongfully dismissed and conduct appropriate disciplinary proceedings against three employees in Renault's security division.

Additionally Ghosn said that he and all the senior managers concerned would waive what he referred to as "variable remuneration" accruing for 2010 as well as any stock option entitlements for 2011.

Further, Ghosn said Renault would launch a project to overhaul the governance of Renault with regard to the protection of the Group, its people and information, "based on an analysis of the internal shortcomings that have come to light." This project will be carried out by the chairman and CEO, the COO and an independent director, the chairman of the audit and accounts committee. The conclusions will be made known.

And from now on, the Group's security division will report directly to a member of the executive committee, while the senior managers' division will report directly to the senior vice president of human resources.

"These measures should make it possible to improve personal protection, with immediate effect," added a statement from Renault.

Both Ghosn and Pelata emphasised their "commitment to leading Renault."