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GM tells of Lopez's last days 14 missing boxes of company records


DETROIT -- Just days before resigning from the General Motors Corp., Jose Ignacio Lopez de Arriortua attended top-level GM strategy meetings in Europe and requested copies of all reports and written material presented there, GM executives said over the weekend. Their comments provided the first details about their decision to file a criminal complaint against the former head of the company's global purchasing operation.

GM executives say they believe that Mr. Lopez, knowing he was about to resign on March 10 to take a job with Volkswagen AG, planned to take the copies and other important documents with him. GM officials said the documents contained the prices the automaker pays for parts and materials, their specifications and long-range schedules for the introduction of new models in Europe.

GM's Adam Opel subsidiary and Volkswagen are fierce rivals in Europe.

Mr. Lopez has not be available for comment since GM executives said Friday that they had asked German law-enforcement officials to take criminal action against him. And so far, Volkswagen officials in Germany and the United States have not responded to GM's accusations against Lopez.

GM executives familiar with the case say the company's suspicions that Mr. Lopez may have taken important information with him to VW are based on the circumstantial evidence of his requests for the materials from the strategy meetings and the fact that the company could not find those and other documents after his departure. In all, GM believes Mr. Lopez took 14 boxes of documents and computer disks, one executive said.

GM officials fear that with proprietary information from the company VW would be able to negotiate more effectively with suppliers, knowing precisely how much they were charging GM for similar parts and materials.

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