French police searched Renault’s headquarters in the south-west of Paris on Wednesday as part of an investigation into the carmaker’s former boss, Carlos Ghosn.
“Groupe Renault confirms that a French police search is under way at the group’s headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt and that it is fully co-operating with the authorities,” said the carmaker in a statement.
One person familiar with the matter stressed that the raid — which involved more than twenty people and was ongoing at midday in Paris — was linked to an investigation into Mr Ghosn, and was not targeting at Renault itself.
Mr Ghosn is currently on bail in Tokyo awaiting trial, having been arrested in Japan last November on charges of financial misconduct at Renault’s alliance-partner Nissan. Mr Ghosn has consistently denied the charges. His representatives in Paris did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
The French investigation, said people familiar with the matter, is focused on a “personal benefit” to its jailed ex-boss Carlos Ghosn made by the Château de Versailles as part of a sponsorship agreement signed with the French carmaker.
It also encompasses payments made to a Nissan-Renault distributor in Oman that are suspected to have been subsequently diverted for his personal use and, more broadly, into expenses incurred by Mr Ghosn through RNBV, a formerly key division of the carmaking alliance, these people said.
Renault’s board also confirmed last month that a joint investigation into RNBV by auditors Mazars uncovered some €11m of unaccounted expenses related to Mr Ghosn.
French prosecutors have been investigating for a month, people familiar with the investigation said. It is not clear how much of what is found in the raid will be shared with Nissan’s own investigators or the Japanese prosecutors.
The news of the raid was first reported by French magazine L’Express earlier on Wednesday.