More than a year after French carmaker Renault found itself embroiled in an industrial espionage scandal, new documents show that the company had prepared statements in the event that the three employees blamed in the case committed suicide.
More than one year ago, French carmaker Renault found itself embroiled in a high-profile industrial espionage scandal. Three executives were fired, but the case turned out to be bogus, and in a desperate attempt to put the whole sordid affair behind them, the company issued a public apology to its former employees.
It appears, however, that the story is far from over. New documents have emerged showing that Renault had prepared statements in the event that the scandal drove the three employees concerned to kill themselves.
Executives Michel Balthazard, Bertrand Rochette and Mathieu Tenenbaum were dismissed from Renault in January of last year on suspicions that they had leaked information on the company’s electric cars to rivals. Although wrongly accused, the three found themselves at the heart of a very public scandal, with little recourse to defend themselves.Renault espionage scandal
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Apparently aware of the possible consequences, Renault’s communications director took action. Two statements were prepared in the event of the “inevitable” – one for a botched suicide attempt, the other for a successful one.
Strain on executives
The documents, which French radio station France Info published on their website Friday, showed that Renault was not only fully aware that the strain of the situation might drive its employees to suicide, but also its apparent acceptance of what it saw as a certainty.
Written in dry, clinical terms, the two statements varied little in their content. The first, which was to be issued in the event of “option 1”, in other words a failed suicide attempt, read: “One of the three executives laid off on January 3, 2011, attempted to end his life on (date).”
The second, or “option 2”, was only slightly modified: “One of the three executives laid off on January 3, 2011, ended his life on (date).”
The statement then went on to convey the company’s regret over the tragic incident.
Latest update: 13/10/2012
By Luke BROWN (video)
FRANCE 24 (text)
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