Ghosn to sue Nissan and Mitsubishi over sacking

22 July 2019

22 July 2019

Carlos Ghosn has sued Nissan and Mitsubishi, a new twist in the saga over his removal from both companies late last year.

In a €15 million lawsuit filed in a Dutch court during June, Ghosn’s advisors suggested the former chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance was accusing the two Japanese carmakers of improperly terminating his contract as an employee of Nissan-Mitsubishi BV, without providing evidence of allegations levelled against him.

A joint investigation by both companies found in January that Ghosn allegedly received €7.8 million of ′improper’ payments from the Dutch-based joint venture, established in 2017.

′Nissan and Mitsubishi breached Dutch law in the dismissal process, by continuously refusing to provide any substantiation and documentation supporting their allegations against Carlos Ghosn, which is mandatory under Dutch law,’ Mr Ghosn’s advisers announced, following a report in French newspaper Le Figaro.

The two Japanese carmakers have yet to comment on the reports.

Ongoing allegations

Ghosn was arrested in Japan last year over financial misconduct uncovered during his tenure as chairman of Nissan. Since this, he has been charged on multiple counts, although none of these relates to the Dutch joint venture.

The investigation by the companies did not uncover why Mr Ghosn had used NMBV to receive the payments that were made to him between April and November of last year, which were based on an agreement to employ him as managing director of the joint venture. 

But the probe found the payments from NMBV to be improper because the employment agreement was signed off by an unauthorised member of Nissan’s secretariat.

One aim of Ghosn’s lawsuit may be to force Hiroto Saikawa, Nissan’s chief executive, and Mitsubishi chairman Osamu Masuko, both of whom are on NMBV’s board, to testify in court, giving Ghosn potential access to further evidence over his wider wrongdoing, which he denies.

Strength promised

The news comes as Jean-Dominique Senard, the chairman of Renault, who replaced Ghosn in the role at the French carmaker, said a new governance structure recently put in place following the allegations would work quickly to strengthen the group’s Alliance. This had been faltering in the lead up to the allegations over the Brazillian and has remained on rocky ground since.

The new board members, appointed last month, are ′conscious that they have a fiduciary duty. The notion of fiduciary duty was probably not the priority of the previous organisation. I think that is changing,’ Senard told reporters at a meeting of the Anglo-American Press Association of Paris.

The chairman also suggested the huge challenges and investments facing the automotive sector, from the US trade war with China and technological disruption from electric vehicles and autonomous development, would convince Nissan that the alliance had to be strengthened. ′One thing that seems obvious is that the sense of urgency in Nissan is getting stronger. The way that the performance of the company [has deteriorated] is such that the status quo seems impossible,’ added the Renault boss.