French newspaper renews accusations against Renault, prosecutors target CEO Ghosn

EPA/KIMIMASA MAYAMA

Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Renault and Nissan Motor Co., at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, 20 October 2016.

French newspaper renews accusations against Renault, prosecutors target CEO Ghosn


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The widely read French newspaper Libération is renewing today its allegations against the carmaker Renault in the diesel emissions cheating scandal, accusing the industrial giant of having “sterilised” its offices and records, anticipating a string of searches from the prosecutors.

Meanwhile, France’s consumer fraud watchdog told already prosecutors that Renault boss Carlos Ghosn should be held responsible.

the finance ministry’s DGCCRF anti-fraud body had announced already in November last year it had found “suspected breaches” of French law by Renault, and prosecutors opened a formal investigation two months later.

Renault shares fell 3.7 % on Wednesday after more details of the watchdog’s allegations were published by daily Liberation.

The carmaker has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any offence.

Following Volkswagen’s exposure in 2015 for U.S. diesel test-cheating, several European countries launched their own investigative test programs.

They found on-road nitrogen oxide emissions more than 10 times above regulatory limits – for some GM, Renault and Fiat Chrysler models – and widespread use of devices that reduce exhaust treatment in some conditions.

The French test program, overseen by an investigating committee, has so far led to action against Renault and three others: PSA Group, Fiat Chrysler and VW.

In its Renault submission, the DGCCRF emphasized Ghosn’s managerial responsibility. While Renault’s “entire chain of command” was responsible, the dossier said, the chief executive was directly accountable because “no delegation of powers had been established by Carlos Ghosn regarding the approval of engine control strategies”.

Carlos Ghosn, a Brazilian-Lebanese-French businessman, is currently Chairman and CEO of both Renault and the Japan-based Nissan.

Carmakers including Renault have broadly invoked an EU legal loophole designed to allow so-called “defeat devices” only when they are necessary for safety or engine protection.

Renault and several of its peers told the French hearings that devices in their vehicles were legal under the EU exemption. But the panel concluded that the technical justifications “remained to be proven”.

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