PARIS (Bloomberg) -- Fired Renault SA executive Bertrand Rochette said the company hasn't produced any evidence that he leaked secrets about its EV program and he won't allow himself to become a “scapegoat.”
Rochette, the former head of Renault's upstream vehicle development program, said investigators were unable to show him any proof that he had a Swiss bank account to store payments for data about the cars.
“I went to Switzerland on Tuesday, Jan. 4 with two people from Renault security,” Rochette said on Monday at a press conference in Paris. “We stayed in Switzerland for 24 hours so I could see this so-called bank, go myself to verify who could have opened an account in my name, if there was an account. I neither knew the name of the bank, nor saw tangible proof.”
Rochette is one of three executives the company suspended in the EV car program and filed a separate criminal complaint over allegations of industrial espionage. Renault and alliance partner Nissan Motor Co. have invested a combined 4 billion euros ($5.4 billion) in EV technology.
'Multiple' pieces of proof
CEO Carlos Ghosn said Sunday in an interview with TF1 television that he has “multiple” pieces of proof in the spying case. He gave no specifics, describing the data that was believed to have been stolen as dealing with how to make electric cars “affordable,” not the technology on how to build them.
“That's not my field,” Rochette said. “I am determined not to be made the scapegoat.”
Renault lawyer Jean Reinhart and company spokeswoman Caroline de Gezelle didn't immediately return calls for comment.
Rochette filed a defamation lawsuit against Renault over his dismissal and the company must respond with proof of the accusations against him.
Rochette told reporters the trip to Switzerland with investigators, which was scheduled after the company began termination proceedings, was designed “to make me talk” and “I said nothing.”
The other fired employees -- Michel Balthazard, Renault's former vice president of advance engineering and Matthieu Tenenbaum, deputy head of the EV program -- deny any wrongdoing and plan legal action against Renault.