Renault says it wrongfully fired three of its executives, Michael Balthazard, Bertrand Rochette and Matthieu Tenenbaum, on suspicion of industrial espionage. The admission comes after French authorities looked into the company's dismissal of the men and determined that Renault's accusations against them were baseless.
Now, Renault has the embarrassing task of meeting with the execs and figuring out a way to compensate them for the loss of their jobs and the scrutiny that comes with this kind of accusation. Renault originally claimed that the execs had satellite bank accounts in Switzerland and Lichtenstein where they hid funds for spying.
Renault says it's now looking at another employee as a possible spying suspect. Renault is also imposing sanctions against those who were involved in the original terminations, including Dominique Gevrey, the head of security who led the original investigation. Gevrey has been charged by French authorities, led by Paris prosecutor Jean Claude Marin (above) with organized fraud for his hand in the firings. Thanks for the tip, Jason!
*Update: Automotive News (sub. req.) reports that Carlos Ghosn gave up his bonus and turned down second-in-command Patrick Pelata's resignation. Pelata had earlier vowed to fall on his sword if it turned out Renault was wrong in firing the three executives accused of industrial espionage.
Source: Financial Times via Business Week | Image: Christophe Ena/AP]