Group Lotus chief Dany Bahar has been suspended while complaints about his conduct are carried out by parent company DRB Hicom. Weekend newspapers reported that the dispute was over expenses for building work carried out on one of Bahar's homes.
Bahar was suspended on Friday and the new owners stressed that Lotus Cars continued to run in his absence. If cleared by the formal investigation, Bahar will be free to return to Lotus, the company said.
Dany Bahar suspended: the statement
In a statement, Lotus said: 'As a result of a number of media inquiries, Group Lotus plc (“Lotus”) can today confirm that, following an operational review, chief executive Dany Bahar has been temporarily suspended from his role to facilitate an investigation into a complaint about his conduct made by Lotus’ penultimate parent company, DRB-HICOM Berhad.'
No further details of what Bahar is alleged to have done have been released, but The Telegraph claims the investigation centres on one of two homes rented by Lotus for Bahar. It also reports that his laptop and mobile phone have been seized.
So who's running Lotus now?
While the investigation into Bahar's conduct is carried out, Lotus will be run by representatives from Malaysia, including Dato’ Lukman Ibrahim, Mohd Khalid Yusof and Aslam Farikullah.
The statement added: 'They will be assisted by Mr Rusman Zaihan.They have been authorised to take up these duties during the suspension period.'
Lotus: the story so far
The suspension of its CEO marks a further twist in the long-running saga of Lotus's future. Parent company Proton was bought by DRB Hicom in spring 2012, sparking the current uncertainty as the new owners complete due diligence on its British sports car operation.
Lotus launched a bold five-year plan in autumn 2010, spelling out plans for a five-strong range to turn the Norfolk from a niche producer to an A-list supercar brand to rival the likes of Ferrari.
But Bahar's vision was always beset by scepticism and work was only ever properly underway on the first car, the Esprit.
Click here for CAR's recent interview with Dany Bahar.