Renault staff questioned in dirty tricks probe: source
Investigators questioned three security staff of French car maker Renault in the latest twist of a case that started with explosive spying claims, an official said Sunday, citing suspected fraud.
"In the course of the investigation, certain things have come to light that suggest a possible fraud by an organised gang," said the judicial official, who asked not be named.
Two people were detained on Friday and one on Saturday for questioning in the affair, which began with allegations of industrial espionage focussing on Renault's new electric car technology.
Two of them were later released without charge and the third was still being questioned on Sunday by the counter-espionage service DCRI, said the official.
Claims of industrial espionage rocked Renault in January when three top managers were fired after an internal investigation. The people detained this weekend were being questioned about that probe, the judicial official said.
The French government had branded the affair "economic warfare" and some pointed the finger at China, drawing an angry denial from Beijing.
But the scandal fizzled out when a source close to investigations said this month that the claims had led nowhere. The source told AFP police had found no trace of Swiss bank accounts that the accused men were alleged to have held.
The company's lawyer Jean Reinhart told AFP last week that an unnamed informer behind the allegations was paid a quarter of a million euros ($350,000) by an investigator working with Renault.
The judicial official said two of the men detained had refused to reveal the source of the allegations.
© 2011 AFP