Toyota denies spy allegations

Fresh allegations surrounding the 'Toyota' spy scandal have been dismissed by the Cologne-based team. The move comes after claims that the Japanese car manufacturer has actually used data illegally obtained from Ferrari

Almost exactly one year on from the revelation that two Toyota employees were being investigated for stealing data from previous employees Ferrari and handing it to the Japanese car manufacturer, the prosecutor investigating the case claimed that the matter could involve more than just a few rogue staff members.

Public prosecutor Siegmar Raupach was quoted in Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport as stating that not only did Toyota have access to stolen data from Ferrari, but that it had actually been used in the Cologne-based team's wind-tunnel data.

Speaking to the newspaper, Raupach said: "We organised a new search upon request of Modena's district attorney in Italy, and two Italian policemen, instructed by Ferrari, identified the Italian software in Toyota's current computers. They found a considerable amount of Ferrari's data in Toyota's wind tunnel software."

Such comments have been swiftly dismissed by Toyota, however, which issued a lengthy statement claiming that some of Raupach's allegations were incorrect and misleading.

The statement said: "The actual statements that are reflected in the article contain a number of serious omissions and inaccuracies which create an entirely incorrect impression of the true facts surrounding the situation.

"As only one example we can clearly state that we have given our full co-operation to the investigating authorities at the time they visited our facilities. All requested support was given and copies of requested materials and equipment provided freely and willingly. Since this time we have received no further request for co-operation or support from the German authorities."

Toyota is understood to have taken disciplinary action against the two individuals involved and they no longer work for the team. The key figure at the centre of the case, aerodynamicist Angelo Santini, was actually dismissed by Toyota because of alleged illegal activities it discovered prior to his employment.

Since the affair first came to light, the team has also revamped its entire operation to make sure it is not exposed to similar problems in the future.

"We have conducted a comprehensive internal investigation into our entire operations since this issue has occurred and taken every possible measure to further improve our rigorous control systems," added the team. "This not only includes countermeasures to ensure that data import does not take place but also that the measures taken to protect our own intellectual property comply with the obligations that any company has in this respect.

"At this stage the allegations only involve individuals and their behaviour, Toyota Motorsport has never voluntarily been involved in unfair acquisition or use of material or data from others.

"We are committed to winning and believe that winning performance will only come from achieving competitive advantage which is derived from our unique solutions and technology a large amount of which can be found in our cars.

"We have confidence in both the Italian and German Judicial processes and are confident that they will reach the right decision in this case."

The spy case is unlikely to be resolved in the short-term. The prosecutors investigating the case face difficulties in allowing Ferrari access to Toyota data, which has sensitive information about the team's developments - while there is also a problem with the sheer amount of evidence to be examined.

"It's an immense amount of material," added the attorney. "We'd need over 10 thousand pages to print everything."

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