French industrialist Henri Proglio said Tuesday he was giving up the chairmanship of defence giant Thales in a spat with the government over his ties to Russia's nuclear industry.
Proglio, who has headed up France's electric utility company EDF as well as waste management company Veolia, was due to have his new role as non-executive chairman confirmed on Wednesday.
However, he has come under pressure from the French government to step down from the advisory board of Russia's nuclear agency Rosatom as well as two companies of which Rosatom is the main shareholder.
In an interview with Le Monde newspaper, Proglio hit out against what he said was a "campaign" against him by the French economy ministry and said he was fed up with "suspicion and humiliation."
"Stop taking me for a puppet, a spy, a glutton, a traitor," said Proglio.
Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron hit back, saying Proglio had a "conflict of interests."
"It was normal that we asked Henri Proglio to choose between the distinguished functions of director, even if non-executive, at the head of Thales and real, paid commitments with major players in the Russian military and civilian, in particular nuclear, industry," said Macron.
"To us it did not appear compatible. It is a problem of ethics and conflict of interest."
Macron denied waging a campaign against Proglio, saying the businessman had "drawn his own conclusions without us asking him to give up" the position.