Former Michelin executive guilty of trying to sell company secrets

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By Denna Bowman

A former Michelin tyres executive has been found guilty of trying to sell company secrets to the firm’s main rival Bridgestone.

Marwan Arbache faces a maximum 10-year jail sentence and a heavy fine after sending an email offering to sell confidential information for around £100,000 back in July 2007.

Michelin was tipped off by Bridgestone and the Japanese competitor ultimately helped its French rival nail the suspect.

Arbache, 34, who worked for Michelin for seven years, was charged with supplying information to a foreign company that could have “undermined the country’s fundamental interests”, violating trademark secrets and breach of trust.

Michelin argued that Arbache would have delivered a serious blow to the company if he had succeeded in selling the secrets about new tyre manufacturing techniques for heavy transport designed to improve durability.

A former director for Europe of Michelin’s heavy transport division, Arbache was uncovered in “Operation Fukuda” a sting operation in which Michelin security officials posing as Japanese clients found out about his dealings.

Lawyers for Arbache argued that no secret documents fell into Brigestone’s hands and that their client did not intend to follow through with his offer to sell the information.

The court has delayed sentencing until 21 June.

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