Nissan plans to remove Ghosn from role over misconduct allegations

20 November 2018

20 November 2018

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn is facing removal from his position as chairman of Japanese carmaker Nissan following concerns about his conduct.

Ghosn is believed to have under-reported his income over multiple years and misused corporate assets. The manufacturer also believes that fellow board member, Greg Kelly, was involved in the scheme.

Police have detained the CEO over the matter in Japan and could face a prison sentence if found guilty.

In a statement, Nissan said: The investigation showed that over many years both Ghosn and Kelly have been reporting compensation amounts in the Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report that were less than the actual amount, to reduce the disclosed amount of Carlos Ghosn’s compensation. Also, in regards to Ghosn, numerous other significant acts of misconduct have been uncovered, such as personal use of company assets, and Kelly’s deep involvement has also been confirmed.

′Nissan has been providing information to the Japanese Public Prosecutors Office and has been fully cooperating with their investigation. We will continue to do so.’

Renault waits

French manufacturer Renault, which is seen to have a majority interest in the Alliance, has yet to announce its full position on the news.

In its most recent communication, the company says: ′Groupe Renault, which acknowledges the first statement from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor Office in connection with the judicial proceedings regarding Carlos Ghosn, is fully engaged and carefully monitors the development of the situation.’

The choice as to whether Ghosn remains in his role at Renault may be decided by the French Government, which owns a 15% stake in the carmaker. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that the CEO ′was no longer in a position to lead’ and urged the manufacturer to appoint a temporary replacement as soon as possible. Renault has stated that COO Thiery Bollore is in charge of the continuity of the Executive Committee. Many believe Bollore is a potential replacement for Ghosn when he steps down from his role.

Tension mounts?

The news could create tensions in the Alliance, with Nissan wanting Ghosn out as soon as possible, while Renault is prepared to wait for a bigger picture to emerge. Mitsubishi Motors is also preparing to remove the Brazilian from his role as chairman, but chief executive Osamu Masuko said the alliance would be difficult to manage without him.

Therefore, the Nissan-led investigation may be seen as a coup to take some control over its position in the group, strengthening the hand of Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who has been unhappy over the fact that the Renault CEO had a position of power at the Japanese business. Any talk of the Alliance collapsing is considered scaremongering, with each company reliant on the other after almost two decades of working so closely together.

Nissan has also suggested that Ghosn’s improper conduct expanded to his position as CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, with reports suggesting that the Japanese carmaker has evidence of wrongdoing at Renault-Nissan BV, the Dutch venture overseeing alliance operations under the control of Renault.