He was enthusiastic about the Vichy regime and following the appointment of François Darlan as Prime Minister of France in February 1941, Barnaud was brought into the government as Delegate General for Franco-German Economic Relations. Along with the likes of Jean Bichelonne, François Lehideux and Pierre Pucheu, he was a member of a group of technocrats who were important in the early days of the Vichy regime.
Barnaud worked with Nazi Germany during the occupation in order to secure deals to supply them with aluminium and rubber from French Indo-China. He did, however successfully oppose a plan suggested by Hermann Göring that the Nazis collect France's church bells and melt them down for their metal content, feeling that such a scheme would breed too much resentment against the Nazi occupiers.
Barnaud was arrested in October 1944, on charges of providing the enemy with intelligence. After several delays the charges were dismissed in 1949. He returned to his business interests and amassed a fortune in post-war France.
- Richard Vinen (2002) The Politics of French Business 1936–1945, Cambridge University Press. p. 230. ISBN 0521522404
- Leon Marchal (2005) Vichy: Two Years of Deception, Kessinger Publishing. p. 120. ISBN 1419165747
- Michael Curtis (2003) Verdict on Vichy, Phoenix. p. 79 ISBN 1628724366.
- Michael Curtis (2003) Verdict on Vichy, Phoenix. p. 259 ISBN 1628724366.
- Elizabeth Campbell Karlsgodt (2011) Defending National Treasures: French Art and Heritage Under Vichy, Stanford University Press. p. 148. ISBN 0804770182
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