License to Fool: Renault Spy Case Takes Another Twist

               In Paris, the spy case embroiling French automaker, Renault, is falling apart, but the bizarre twists continue.  Originally, allegations were made against three of Renault’s executives, accusing the three of selling vital corporate information.   There were rumors of Chinese involvement and investigators began searching for Swiss bank accounts where payments were sent to the executives.  (For a recap and tips on protecting information, visit the original post from January, Corporate Spies and Protecting Proprietary Information). 
               Renault’s security director, a former military spy, Dominique Gevrey, helped spearhead the internal investigation against the three executives.  The investigation expenses were piling up to the tune of $433,000.  Gevrey found an informant with more information – information to sell for another $545,000.  Before the additional payment was made, French investigators realized that the informant didn’t exist.  Neither did the Swiss bank accounts.  In fact, the only secret accounts were in Spain and Dubai and had been set up by Gevrey, according to investigators.
               Gevrey took the money that was to be used for the corporate espionage investigation and was banking it for himself.  He had created the original allegations against the three execs as a sort of investigative  or “intelligence” fraud. 
               Gevrey was arrested in Paris this week as he was boarding a plane bound for Guinea. 
               So what are the Business Karate lessons for a corporate self-defense strategy?  The first lesson is to confirm business intelligence whether it is an anonymous tip on internal criminal problems or even information about the competition.  Evaluate the information and the source before reacting.
               The second lesson would be to ensure that all departments, even security, have proper oversight and are audited.  I am certain that Gevrey presented a very convincing case for the costs of the investigation and also for the charges against the three executives.  He would have known that the case would be highly publicized and that he was literally trying to frame three innocent individuals.  The individuals are well off and of course, knowing that they were innocent would never stop fighting the false charges.  One has to wonder how far Gevrey was prepared to take the case and even if he had some type of unflattering information on the three that he thought might keep them from protesting too hard. 
               Renault executives or even the CEO should have paid more attention to the developments and especially questioned payments to an anonymous source.  In law enforcement circles, anonymous tips are the most unreliable source of information from a legal perspective and have to be corroborated more than other proven sources.  From a corporate perspective, be sure to evaluate where intelligence is coming from before making an expensive and potentially embarrassing mistake.
               Certainly, this story will take more strange turns as the investigation and prosecution continue.  Keep checking back for updates.

No comments:

Post a Comment