• Kyodo

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A Toyota employee has been temporarily detained on suspicion of industrial espionage involving Italian automaker Ferrari, local media reported Sunday.

Ferrari has filed the allegation with investigative authorities claiming Toyota’s TF103 racing car resembles its F2002, according to the reports.

The man used to work for Ferrari and is suspected of giving Toyota’s Formula One team classified documents he obtained from the Italian maker, the reports said.

At the request of Italian authorities, German police searched the Japanese automaker’s Cologne factory in western Germany and secured computers, CDs and other goods for evidence, the reports said.

The employee’s nationality was not immediately known. He is believed to have been released after police questioning.

The F2002 was driven by Ferrari ace Michael Schumacher, who won a record sixth world championship this year in the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix last month.

In Japan, Toyota released a statement saying its subsidiary in Germany has been searched by the police, but the company has not been informed of the details.

Toyota entered Formula One in 2002 in what was viewed as an attempt to create a new corporate image but has so far shown poor performances on the racing circuit.

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