Ghosn dismissed as Mitsubishi chairman

Nissan Motor Co. says an internal investigation found that its chairman, Carlos Ghosn, has underreported his income. (AP)
Updated 26 November 2018
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Ghosn dismissed as Mitsubishi chairman

  • Renault, which is 15-percent owned by the French state, has decided to stick by Ghosn for now
  • The board of Nissan decided unanimously on Thursday to oust Ghosn as chairman

TOKYO: Executives at Japanese car firm Mitsubishi Motors on Monday decided to sack Carlos Ghosn as chairman as the once-revered tycoon faces allegations of financial misconduct that sparked his shock arrest.
“During today’s board meeting, it was decided that he is dismissed as chairman,” the company said in a statement.
Following his stunning arrest last Monday, the 64-year-old Brazil-born Frenchman began his second week in a Japanese detention center facing allegations he under-reported his salary to the tune of $44 million over several years.
He has not been formally charged and denies the allegations, telling prosecutors he had no intention of under-declaring his compensation.
Fellow executive Greg Kelly, described as the mastermind behind the alleged misconduct, has also reportedly denied the allegations, stressing that his boss’s compensation was paid in an appropriate fashion.
The board of Nissan decided unanimously on Thursday to oust Ghosn as chairman, a spectacular fall from grace for the dynamic businessman credited with turning around the firm’s once-flagging fortunes by tying its fate to Renault.
The executives made their decision “based on the copious amount and compelling nature of the evidence of misconduct presented,” said a company spokesman.
According to local media, Nissan formed a “secret” cell within the firm to look into the alleged financial misdeed.
Executives accelerated the probe amid concerns Ghosn was working on a fully fledged merger between Nissan and Renault, Kyodo News said without naming its sources.
Renault is the dominant partner in the alliance, holding 43 percent of the shares in Nissan, but the Japanese firm outsells its French counterpart — sparking concern in Tokyo about the balance of power.
Together, the three-way alliance is the world’s top-selling car company, with some 10.6 million vehicles rolling off the production line. It employs around 450,000 people worldwide.
Renault, which is 15-percent owned by the French state, has decided to stick by Ghosn for now, appointing an interim boss while the current CEO and chairman is “incapacitated.”
France’s economy minister Bruno Le Maire has urged the Japanese firm to share “quickly” whatever evidence it has gathered and stressed Ghosn will stay at the helm of Renault “until there are tangible charges.”
However, Le Maire also said “I do not believe in a conspiracy theory” amid talk of a so-called “palace coup” within Nissan to prevent Ghosn merging the firm with Renault.
Nissan’s CEO Hiroto Saikawa spoke to staff on Monday to address the issue. Saikawa, who rose through the Nissan ranks under Ghosn’s wing, has already spoken of his “great resentment and dismay” at the allegations.
Meanwhile, further claims continued to leak out in the Japanese media of Ghosn’s alleged misconduct.
Officially, prosecutors are looking into allegations that he understated his income by around five billion yen ($44 million) between June 2011 and June 2015.
But the Asahi Shimbun said authorities are planning to re-arrest him on charges of understating his income by a further three billion yen — for a total of $71 million — for the following three fiscal years.
Under Japanese law, suspects can face additional arrest warrants, which can result in heavier penalties. The current allegations could see Ghosn facing 10 years behind bars and/or a 10-million-yen fine.
Separately, Kyodo has reported that Nissan paid $100,000 annually since 2002 to Ghosn’s sister for a fictive “advisory” role.
And the Mainichi Shimbun reported on Monday that Ghosn used Nissan’s corporate money to pay a donation to his daughter’s university and also charged family trips to the company.


Former Nissan chairman Ghosn appears in Tokyo court

Updated 23 May 2019
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Former Nissan chairman Ghosn appears in Tokyo court

  • It is the first of a series of hearings to iron out logistics for Carlos Ghosn’s actual trial
  • Nissan’s former chairman has hired a strong legal team as he fights to clear his name

TOKYO: Nissan’s former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, appeared in a Japanese courtroom Thursday for a hearing ahead of his trial on accusations of financial misconduct.
It was the first of a series of hearings to iron out logistics for Ghosn’s actual trial. The trial date has not been set, and experts say it could be months away.
Ghosn, who led the Japanese automaker for two decades, was arrested in November and charged with underreporting his income and breach of trust. He was released on bail in March, rearrested in April on fresh accusations and then released again on bail on April 25.
Ghosn insists he is innocent and says he was targeted in a “conspiracy” by others at Nissan Motor Co.
Nissan, which is allied with Renault of France, has seen profits nose-dive amid the fallout from Ghosn’s arrest.
Ghosn has hired a strong legal team as he fights to clear his name. One of his top lawyers, Junichiro Hironaka, was seen walking into the courtroom Thursday with Ghosn.
One of the conditions of Ghosn’s release on bail is that he is forbidden to contact his wife. Prosecutors say that’s to prevent evidence tampering.
Ghosn’s lawyers challenged that restriction, saying it is a violation of human rights, but the Supreme Court rejected their appeal Tuesday.
The lawyers can appeal again to have the restriction removed.
In a briefing Thursday, Deputy Chief Prosecutor Shin Kukimoto welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision.
“For married people to be together is important, but I feel there was enough reason for the Supreme Court to support us in this restriction,” he said.
Kukimoto declined comment on the hearing, which was closed to reporters and the public.
Kukimoto also said the maximum penalty upon conviction of all 15 counts of the charges Ghosn is facing is 15 years in prison and a fine of ¥150 million ($1.4 million).