Lotus Group CEO Dany Bahar suspended, facing investigationTue, 29 May 2012 00:00:00 -0700
Lotus Group chief executive officer Dany Bahar has been suspended and is facing an investigation following an undisclosed conduct complaint. While there is no official word on the nature of the complaint against Bahar, the The Daily Telegraph reports that it might be related to expenses claimed by Bahar or a legal dispute surrounding renovations on one of two Norwich, England, rental homes paid for by Lotus.
Bahar's suspension has heightened the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Lotus Group. In January, Malaysian automotive firm DRB-Hicom purchased Lotus' parent company, Malaysian automaker Proton. Proton has owned Lotus since 1996. In that time, the enthusiast-oriented manufacturer has never turned a profit for its parent company.
Central to an ambitious Lotus turnaround plan, Bahar has caused no small amount of controversy since his tenure as CEO began in 2009. Earlier this year, Lotus responded to questions about the health and direction of the company in a bizarre press release that did little to calm concerns about the British automaker's well-being.
DRB-Hicom managing director and Proton executive chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Khamil Jamil provided some idea of where the automaker might be headed in an official statement made on Monday. According to the Malaysian newspaper The Star, Khamil told the public that Lotus remained “an iconic brand with global presence and positioning,” and suggested that parent company Proton still viewed the automaker as an asset.
While Bahar is out of the picture, at least temporarily, day-to-day operations continue at the Lotus headquarters in England. Last week, a DRB-Hicom spokesman said, “Dato' Lukman Ibrahim, Mr. Mohd Khalid Yusof and Mr. Aslam Farikullah—representatives of Lotus's parent companies—have been authorized by Group Lotus PLC's board to handle and conduct the day-to-day management and affairs of the Lotus Group“ while Bahar remains under investigation.
Read more about this developing story at Automotive News Europe.
By Graham Kozak