A meeting of Renault's top management today (19 July) has been told the automaker's former second in command, Patrick Pelata, will leave the company next month following last year's spy scandal in which three top executives were wrongly accused of espionage.

It appears Pelata initially paid the price for the spy affair, which rocked France for months as the country's DCRI secret services were called in and the issue shot to the highest echelons of political life.

The COO did not leave Renault at the time but was moved to other alliance duties while the three executives - one of whom Mathieu Tenenbaum has since returned to the company - are believed to have secured huge damages thought to be in the region of EUR11m (US$13.4m).

"It [Pelata leaving] was announced this morning to top managers," a Renault spokeswoman in Paris told just-auto. "Pelata took the decision to leave the alliance and has some other projects - the departure is scheduled for 16 August.

"This is his personal decision - he decided to push his career out of the alliance and may have some other plans but I have no details - it is personal."

The espionage scandal hogged the front pages of France's - and the world's - media for many months last year as extraordinary stories emanated from the three Renault executives who all vehemently refuted any wrongdoing.

One executive - Bertrand Rochette - claimed he had been spirited to Switzerland to examine supposed bank accounts but the matter appeared to be quietly dropped once in the country.

Renault apologised to the three employees following their eventual exoneration, a move welcomed at the time by former French Industry Minister, Eric Besson.

Renault CEO, Carlos Ghosn, also opted not to take a EUR1.6m bonus or stock options at the time.

The Renault spokeswoman declined to confirm if the EUR11m compensation figure was accurate.

"Renault did not disclose the figure paid to [the] executives," she said. "We will not disclose that in the future."