Renault chief operating officer Patrick Pelata has been forced to resign following pressure over the bungling of the spy scandal that has engulfed the French car manufacturer.

The company falsely accused three of its workers of industrial espionage based on information which later turned out to be an internal attempt at fraud.

Pelata had previously offered his resignation at an emergency Renault board meeting on 14 March, but chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn turned it down.

The firm has increasingly come under pressure from the French government to make management changes, however, with the state owning 15 percent of Renault shares.

Pelata is second-in-command to Ghosn and runs Renault on a day-to-day basis, so the scandal has claimed a high-profile scalp.

Ghosn said in a statement: "Beyond the executives involved, all the employees of Renault have suffered from this crisis. This is the reason for which major changes have been made in order to restore trust in the company."

The three employees, including the vice-president in charge of advanced engineering, were accused by Renault of leaking sensitive information on electric vehicle technology and investigated by the French security services.

Ghosn and Pelata had already committed to handing back their 2010 bonuses and not receiving any such bonuses for 2011 in an attempt to ward off criticism.

It is understood that Pelata will be offered another job elsewhere within the Renault-Nissan alliance.