Former French Justice Minister Rachida Dati is being probed over consulting fees she has received from the Renault-Nissan strategic partnership, France’s financial prosecutor office said on Tuesday.
The preliminary investigation follows a complaint by an individual Renault shareholder against Dati, Ghosn, and Bauer for corruption and misuse of company funds, the shareholder’s lawyer Jean-Paul Baduel said in an interview.
Payments to consultants made by the Netherlands-based joint venture have come under scrutiny after its ousted chairman, Carlos Ghosn, was arrested and charged in Japan in December for alleged financial misconduct – charges which he denies.
A full independent audit of the Dutch-registered joint venture listed suspect payments made by Renault-Nissan under Ghosn of about 11 million euros. Renault SA’s board is seeking to recover the funds jointly with Nissan Motor Co Ltd, as both companies fund the alliance.
Renault-Nissan hired Dati, 53, after she stepped down as justice minister in 2009 to stand for the European Parliament. She recently said she wanted to run for the Paris municipal election in 2020.
Security consultant Alain Bauer, who was paid by the holding company for his services in the wake of an earlier scandal over a 2011 espionage hoax at Renault, is also being probed.
Bauer and Dati’s lawyer, Olivier Pardo, both said the contracts they signed with Renault-Nissan were legal.
“Everything was reported, there was a professional agreement totally compliant with the rules and it dates back a long time ago,” Pardo said. Ghosn’s lawyers were not reachable outside business hours in Japan.