The case of three Renault executives who are accused of passing off trade secrets to a foreign firm has taken yet another turn for the confusing, as two of the dismissed managers are suing Renault for defamation. Reuters reports that Michel Balthazard, the highest-ranking executive to be accused in the case, has joined colleague Bertrand Rochette in threatening to file a defamation suit against his former employer. Balthazard is also appealing his dismissal to a French labor tribunal, in hopes of being reinstated at the company. Rochette, Balthazard and a third exec, Matthieu Tenenbaum, are accused of passing strategic information to a foreign network in exchange for bribe payments, charges all three executives deny. According to the WSJ, Rochette denies even having a Swiss bank account into which Renault alleges his bribes were deposited. Meanwhile, French finance minister Christine Lagarde tells the NYT that
I really don’t think that the Renault case has a Chinese angle. I have zero indication
But, as has been typical thus far in this strange case, other French officials including the head of Parliament’s economic intelligence working group insist that a Chinese connection is involved. We will continue to keep an eye on this case… but don’t expect much clarity on the details for some time.