Carlos Ghosn stands next to a blue 2011 Nissan Leaf

The industrial espionage case – or was it fraud or a scandalous hoax – involving three top Renault execs and the automaker's electric vehicle secrets is swirling out of control. So much so that Renault-Nissan chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn may need assistance from Patrick Pelata, the automaker's chief operating officer, to protect the CEO from losing his job, according to Automotive News (sub. req.).

Pelata, a 55 year-old judo enthusiast, stepped forward and took a leading role when Renault publicly announced the firing of three top execs back in January. Now, with allegations that the whole ordeal may have been a hoax, Pelata told The Guardian that he's ready to accept the consequences of his actions, a decision that could ultimately cost him his job. Reuters reports that an unidentified source close to Renault suspects that Pelata will be the fall guy, protecting Ghosn from losing his job. The source told Reuters that:
It's likely to be Patrick Pelata who forms the shield to protect the CEO. In this story, somebody has to throw themselves on the grenade.
A Renault spokesperson declined Reuter's request for comment on this sticky situation.

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req., Reuters]