French car giant Renault has suspended three senior executives for alleged industrial espionage offences.
The company said that the three had been suspended without pay for ethical issues following an investigation.
Anonymous sources told Reuters: "It involves people who were caught red-handed for industrial espionage. It's a matter that has lasted several months already."
Equally shy people told AFP the suspended Renault execs were all high up in the firm's electric vehicle division and were suspected of leaking company secrets.
The newswire said Renault's compliance department was made aware of an "ethical alert" in August. An investigation led to the suspension of the staff, who now have a chance to respond to the accusations before Renault decides on further steps.
All three were in charge of electric vehicle projects and one was on Renault's 30-strong management committee.
On Monday Eric Besson, France's Minister of Industry, Energy and the Digital Economy, visited Technocentre Renault in Guyancourt, west of Paris, for briefings on the company's electric vehicle designs and strategy. Renault is betting on all-electric cars rather than hybrid machines being the future's car of choice. ®