Economy

Nissan chairman arrested on suspicion of 'financial misconduct'

Nissan chairman arrested on suspicion of 'financial misconduct'

It said CEO Hiroto Saikawa would propose to the Nissan board to remove Ghosn and Kelly.

The carmaker had conducted the internal investigation based on a whistle-blower for the past several months, it said. The Japanese automaker said that Ghosn had used company money for personal use and that it had been investigating possible improper practices of Ghosn and Representative Director Greg Kelly for several months. The automaker also reports that it has been cooperating fully with Japanese investigators throughout the investigation.

After Mitsubishi Motors' sales plummeted in the wake of fuel data manipulation scandal, Nissan took control of the smaller Japanese automaker in 2016 by purchasing a big equity stake.

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Mr Ghosn joined Nissan in 1999 after Renault bought a controlling stake and became its CEO in 2001, remaining in that post until previous year.

A spokesman for France's finance ministry declined to comment on the news. The first person to lead two Fortune 500 companies at the same time, he also enjoyed an nearly unique position as a foreign chief executive of a major Japanese company - even gaining the honour of a manga comic book version of his life and rice sculptures of his face in bento lunchboxes sold to Japanese businessmen. "We will continue our work to identify our governance and compliance issues, and to take appropriate measures".

"Numerous other significant acts of misconduct" including "personal use of company assets", were also found.

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Another pay vote at Renault this year narrowly passed, lessening some of the pressure on Ghosn as he was thought to be exploring a full merger between Renault and Nissan.

Asked if Ghosn was a charismatic leader or a despot, Saikawa said that as an outsider, "He achieved much that many others could not do in reforms, especially in the beginning". Ghosn remained in that post until previous year.

Brazilian-born, of Lebanese descent and a French citizen, Ghosn began his career in 1978 at tyremaker Michelin, before moving to Renault in 1996, where he oversaw a turnaround at the French automaker that won him the nickname 'Le Cost Killer'.

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News of Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn's arrest has sent shockwaves throughout the auto industry as he has been highly regarded as one of the world's best-known businessmen.

The Yomiuri newspaper reported that Ghosn had been arrested by Tokyo prosecutors on suspicion of under-reporting his salary. Ghosn said in September that the companies will "clarify everything" within the first half of his current Renault CEO term. For 2017, for instance, Ghosn demanded a 7.4m euro ($8.5m) package for his role, but the French government pushed back.

But he remained out of the spotlight past year when Nissan was forced to recall more than 1 million vehicles after it was found to be using unqualified inspectors to carry out checks at its domestic factories.

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A statement by Philippe Lagayette, lead independent director of Renault, along with Renault Board Committee Chairs Marie-Annick Darmaillac and Patrick Thomas, said the three "wish to express their dedication to the defense of Renault's interest in the Alliance".


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