China Accused In Spying Scandal At Renault

PARIS (AP) — A French legislator said Friday that there are indications of Chinese involvement in a suspected case of industrial espionage at carmaker Renault.

Lawmaker Bernard Carayon, an expert on industrial espionage, said "proven, diverse and reliable" sources pointed to an effort to obtain secrets from three Renault executives suspended by the automaker this week.

"There are in effect several sources that are typically thought to be serious who consider that a Chinese buyer is in fact behind this operation," said Carayon, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative party, on France-Info radio.

Renault has said the automaker plans to take legal action in a case it has described as serious acts by executives with extremely strategic positions in the company. It declined to comment further.

Sarkozy's office also declined to comment. An official with France's counterterrorism agency, DCRI, said it has not been asked to look into the case.

French Industry Minister Besson said Thursday that the case appeared to involve Renault's development of an electric car, one of CEO Carlos Ghosn's priorities at the partly state-owned car maker.

Besson called for improving the legal arsenal to protect France against industrial espionage.

Renault and its alliance partner Nissan Motor Co. of Japan have invested $4 billion to develop electric cars. The first of them, Nissan's Leaf, was launched in the United States and Japan last month.