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.


Libya’s National Oil against paying ‘ransom’ to reopen El Sharara field

Updated 14 December 2018
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Libya’s National Oil against paying ‘ransom’ to reopen El Sharara field

  • Ransom payment would set dangerous precedent
  • NOC declared force majeure on exports on Monday

BENGHAZI: Libya’s state-owned National Oil Corp. (NOC) said it was against paying a ransom to an armed group that has halted crude production at the country’s largest oilfield.
“Any attempt to pay a ransom to the armed militia which shut down El Sharara (oilfield) would set a dangerous precedent that would threaten the recovery of the Libyan economy,” NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in a statement on the company’s website.
NOC on Monday declared force majeure on exports from the 315,000-barrels-per-day oilfield after it was seized at the weekend by a local militia group.
The nearby El-Feel oilfield, which uses the same power supply as El Sharara, was still producing normally, a spokesman for NOC said, without giving an output figure. The field usually pumps around 70,000 bpd.
Since 2013 Libya has faced a wave of blockages of oilfields and export terminals by armed groups and civilians trying to press the country’s weak state into concessions.
Officials have tended to end such action by paying off protesters who demand to be added to the public payroll.
At El Sharara, in southern Libya, a mix of state-paid guards, civilians and tribesmen have occupied the field, camping there since Saturday, protesters and oil workers said. The protesters work in shifts, with some going home at night.
NOC has evacuated some staff by plane, engineers at the oilfield said. A number of sub-stations away from the main field have been vacated and equipment removed.
The occupiers are divided, with members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) indicating they would end the blockade in return for a quick cash payment, oil workers say. The PFG has demanded more men be added to the public payroll.
The tribesmen have asked for long-term development funds, which might take time.
Libya is run by two competing, weak governments. Armed groups, tribesmen and normal Libyans tend to vent their anger about high inflation and a lack of infrastructure on the NOC, which they see as a cash cow booking billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues annually.