Nissan to share Ghosn evidence as it investigates Alliance activity in Europe

12 December 2018

12 December 2018

Nissan has taken its first steps in sharing details of alleged misconduct committed by Carlos Ghosn with its French Alliance partner Renault.

The move comes as the Japanese manufacturer widens its investigations to include its European subsidies, together with some Alliance activities, as it looks to build a picture of the activities that led to its former chairman’s incarceration at the hands of authorities in its home country.

Since Ghosn’s arrest last month, the French Government, Renault’s biggest shareholder, has demanded to see the findings of Nissan’s internal investigation that include allegations of financial misconduct. While Nissan and Alliance partner Mitsubishi have removed the Brazilian from his role as Chairman of each carmaker, Renault has seemed to stand by its CEO, announcing Thierry Bollore as a deputy with the same powers while Ghosn is jailed.

Nissan had to wait for clearance from local prosecutors before it could share its findings. The lack of written evidence is perceived by some to be the only reason Renault has installed an interim management team rather than oust Ghosn, with the new evidence expected to be enough to start dismissal proceedings.

Meanwhile, Nissan is widening its financial misconduct probe to investigate potential wrongdoing at Renault-Nissan BV, the Netherlands-based joint venture owned 50-50 by each carmaker. The Japanese firm is also targeting a number of its affiliated subsidies set up in the country, which could lead to more criminal charges against Ghosn.

The new investigation could put more pressure on Renault. Until now, suggestions of misconduct were limited to Japan. However, should Nissan find any wrongdoing on the French carmaker’s doorstep, questions could be asked over the French firm’s CEO’s activities on home soil.

Nissan has approached Renault to conduct a joint investigation of the alliance entity, one person said. Nissan cannot conduct a full review of Renault-Nissan BV without the help of its partner, given the 50-50 ownership structure. It was unclear how or whether Renault responded.

It is believed that in the run-up to the allegations being made public, Ghosn was pursuing either a deeper collaboration or a full merger between Renault and Nissan, under pressure from the French Government. The Japanese carmaker had strong reservations about such plans.

Nissan is 43.4% owned by Renault. While it counts sales around 60% higher globally than the French firm, it remains a junior partner in the Alliance shareholding hierarchy, with a smaller reciprocal 15% non-voting stake in the European carmaker.