The suspected industrial espionage incident within Renault’s electrical vehicle programme has been described by a government minister as “serious” and as potential “economic warfare”.
Eric Besson, the French minister for industry, underlined the government’s view of the significance of the situation, telling the local media that “industrial espionage and economic intelligence” was a risk for French companies.
Reports say that three Renault executives were suspended after an internal investigation lasting several months. Bloomberg reported that Michel Balthazard, vice president of advanced engineering and a Renault employee for 30 years, is most senior member of the three.
Officially, Renault says that the people involved were in “particularly strategic” positions and that “the behaviour of these three employees was opposed to Renault's code of ethics, and consciously and deliberately put at risk company assets”.