News - Renault
Renault’s Pelata to go – and stay
Falls on sword: Renault chief operating officer Patrick Pelata has resigned over the bungled electric vehicle ‘spy’ case.
Spy bungle claims Ghosn’s deputy, but he is set to stay within Renault-Nissan group
12 April 2011
RENAULT second-in-command Patrick Pelata is set to stay within the Renault-Nissan group, despite resigning as chief operating officer of the French company over his part in the recent bungled electric vehicle ‘spy’ case.
Mr Pelata, the right-hand man of Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, fell on his sword yesterday after reading two reports – one internal and another independent – commissioned by Renault on the affair in which three company employees were falsely accused of feeding secrets of Renault’s electric vehicle development program to China last year.
After announcing that Mr Pelata had asked to be relieved of his duties, a Renault statement said the request had been granted and that he would be offered other duties “inside the group formed by the Renault-Nissan alliance”.
“Mr Carlos Ghosn stresses that Patrick Pelata’s skills remain valuable and are an asset for the group,” the company statement said.
Several other executives were not so lucky, with most of the staffers involved in the “unjustified incrimination of three Renault executives” either fired, suspended or demoted.
Renault said an audit report by management consultant BearingPoint unearthed “the chain of failings and dysfunctions within the company, particularly as regards the supervision and control of the Group Security Department”.
Left: Former chief operating officer of Renault Patrick Pelata. Below: Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn.
The statement added that Mr Ghosn “once again stated before the board how much he regrets this dysfunctioning, as well as his firm intention of drawing all the appropriate consequences for the proper running of the company”.
Mr Ghosn was quoted as saying: “This extraordinary meeting of the board of directors has turned a painful leaf in the history of Renault.
“Beyond the executives involved, all the employees of Renault have suffered from this crisis.
“This is the reason for which major changes have been made in order to restore trust in the company. Patrick Pélata will leave Renault without leaving the group. I thank him for his action at the service of Renault and of the Alliance. His skills remain an asset for the group.”
Last month, Mr Pelata offered his resignation to Mr Ghosn, who turned him down at a Renault board meeting.
This time, however, Mr Ghosn accepted in the face of the independent audit of Renault’s security systems, for which Mr Pelata was ultimately responsible.
But Mr Pelata’s move out of the COO chair will not be immediate, with Renault saying he would continue to manage current operations until he leaves Renault.
Fraudsters are believed to have been responsible for triggering the fiasco, using fake espionage claims to milk money out of the company to pay a fictional ‘source’ for information.
Three Renault engineers – vice chairman of pre-engineering Michel Balthazard, head of pre-projects Bertrand Rochette and the deputy head of Renault’s EV program Matthieu Tenenbaum – were accused of spying and subsequently fired from the company.
An official police investigation exonerated the trio, forcing Renault to engage in its own witch-hunt to find out why the three men had been treated so badly before the matter had even been officially investigated by French security forces.
Renault yesterday confirmed that it had reached an “in principle” financial settlement with the three men, although it did not say how much it was expected to cost. French reports suggest the claims for damages range from €2.4 million ($A3.3m) to €3.4 million ($A4.7m).
Renault said it had also reached an agreement with another former emoplyee, Philippe Clogenson, who left the company in 2009 after being accused of receiving bribes from suppliers.
The company said that under the deal, Mr Clogenson would return to the company on May 2 as Renault Consulting director of business development.
Renault also foreshadowed an in-depth reform of ethics and risk management policies, and said its board accounting and audit committee would be transformed into a risk and ethics audit committee.
As well, a new audit and risk control department will be created.