Ex-Nissan exec says automaker sought to hide Ghosn’s pay

Ex-Nissan exec says automaker sought to hide Ghosn’s pay
Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn holds a press conference at the Maronite Christian Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, in Kaslik, north of Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 29, 2020. (AP Photo)
Short Url
Updated 12 January 2021

Ex-Nissan exec says automaker sought to hide Ghosn’s pay

Ex-Nissan exec says automaker sought to hide Ghosn’s pay
  • Toshiyuki Shiga told the court he faced pressure to ensure auditors would not raise objections to the reporting of Carlos Ghosn’s pay
  • Ghosn is wanted on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation

TOKYO: A former Nissan chief operating officer outlined in a Japanese court Tuesday the pains company officials took to hide star executive Carlos Ghosn’s pay, and how they had worried about his quitting for a rival.
“Carlos Ghosn is a world-class business leader and CEO,” said Toshiyuki Shiga, testifying at the trial of his former colleague Greg Kelly, charged with under-reporting Ghosn’s compensation.
“We heard not only as rumors but as fact that he was getting job offers,” Shiga added.
As No. 2 at the Japanese automaker from 2005-2013, Shiga is the highest ranking Nissan Motor Co. executive to testify at the trial, which began in September. He worked closely with Ghosn after Nissan’s French alliance partner Renault sent him to Japan to help turn the troubled automaker around in 1999. Shiga retired from Nissan in 2019.
The issue of Ghosn’s pay became more of a problem after Japan beefed up its compensation disclosure requirements in 2010. After that, Ghosn handed back about 1 billion yen ($10 million) a year, roughly half of what he’d been getting.
Executives in Japan get far less than their Western counterparts. Shiga testified he felt sorry Ghosn wasn’t collecting his full pay, noting Ghosn was getting job offers paying 2.5 billion yen ($25 million) a year.
Earlier testimony at the Tokyo District Court had gone over the various proposals that Nissan had considered to pay Ghosn, including overseas affiliates, retirement allowances and stock options.
Shiga said Ghosn had total power to decide on the amount and method of his payment. Apart from confirming a post that Kelly had held he did not mention the American’s role in his testimony.
Kelly, a former Nissan executive vice president, has been charged with falsifying securities reports in allegedly under-reporting Ghosn’s compensation by about 9 billion yen ($90 million) over several years. Both he and Ghosn were arrested in November 2018, but Ghosn fled the country in late 2019 while out on bail.
Kelly says he is innocent, and was merely trying to keep Ghosn at Nissan. Ghosn also denies any wrongdoing.
Shiga told the court he faced pressure to ensure auditors would not raise objections to the reporting of Ghosn’s pay and that he viewed that as a failure of the company’s governance. He said he regretted not insisting Ghosn fully disclose his pay.
“Why couldn’t I say, ‘No,’ then? I deeply regret that to this day,” Shiga told the court.
“In my life, that one act has left me with a bitter taste. The memories have faded, but the bitter taste has never gone away.”
Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades. He is wanted on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. But he is in Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.
Nissan as a company has acknowledged guilt in the case.
If convicted, Kelly could face up to 15 years in prison. A verdict is not expected for several months.


Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try
A view of Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit, with a rocket underneath the wing of a modified Boeing 747 jetliner, during test launch of its high-altitude launch system for satellites from Mojave, California, U.S. January 17, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 January 2021

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try
  • The rocket’s upper stage coasted for a period, reignited to circularize the orbit and then deployed the nine CubeSats

LOS ANGELES: Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reached space on Sunday, eight months after the first demonstration flight of its air-launched rocket system failed, the company said.
A 70-foot-long (21.34-meter-long) LauncherOne rocket was released from beneath the wing of a Boeing 747 carrier aircraft off the coast of Southern California, ignited moments later and soared toward space.
The two-stage rocket carried a cluster of very small satellites known as CubeSats developed and built as part of a NASA educational program involving US universities.
The launch occurred after the Boeing 747-400 took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles and flew out over the Pacific Ocean to a drop point beyond the Channel Islands.
“According to telemetry, LauncherOne has reached orbit!” Virgin Orbit tweeted later. “Everyone on the team who is not in mission control right now is going absolutely bonkers.”
The rocket’s upper stage coasted for a period, reignited to circularize the orbit and then deployed the nine CubeSats.
The flight developments were announced on social media. The launch was not publicly livestreamed.
Virgin Orbit, based in Long Beach, California, is part of a wave of companies targeting the launch market for increasingly capable small satellites, which may range in sizes comparable to a toaster on up to a home refrigerator.
Competitor Rocket Lab, also headquartered in Long Beach, has deployed 96 payloads in 17 launches of its Electron rocket from a site in New Zealand. Another of its rockets was nearing launch Sunday.
Virgin Orbit touts the flexibility of its capability to begin its missions by using airports around the globe.
Virgin Orbit attempted its first demonstration launch in May 2020.
The rocket was released and ignited but only briefly flew under power before it stopped thrusting. The lost payload was only a test satellite.
The company later said an investigation determined there was a breach in a high-pressure line carrying cryogenic liquid oxygen to the first-stage combustion chamber.
Virgin Orbit is separate from Virgin Galactic, the company founded by Branson to carry passengers on suborbital hops in which they will experience the sensations and sights of spaceflight.
Virgin Galactic expects to begin commercial operations this year in southern New Mexico.