Nissan ousts chairman and Renault CEO Ghosn on financial violations

JOEL SAGET  AFP

The news was first reported by the Asahi Shimbun, which claimed it had "learnt that the Tokyo Prosecutor's Office asked Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn on the evening of the 19th [of November] to come in voluntarily on allegedly violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Acts, as he is suspected of underreporting his salary".

Nissan's high-flying chairman Carlos Ghosn is to be dismissed after the Japanese vehicle giant said an internal investigation found he under-reported his income and engaged in other "significant misconduct".

It said an investigation found that Ghosn and another board member had been under-reporting Ghosn's compensation.

Mr Ghosn, a towering figure in the vehicle industry, will be sacked from the Japanese firm after a board meeting on Thursday, its chief executive said.

Nissan's official statement said that, based on a whistleblower report, "Nissan Motor Co Ltd (Nissan) has been conducting an internal investigation over the past several months regarding misconduct involving the company's representative director and chairman Carlos Ghosn and representative director Greg Kelly".

He said the company had uncovered years of financial misconduct including under-reporting of income and inappropriate personal use of company assets.

Renault's market value dived by €2bn (£1.78bn) to €17bn after the report, with shares falling by 11%.

He served as Nissan's chief executive from 2001 until April 2017, becoming chief executive of Renault in 2005, leading the two major automakers simultaneously.

In the hours after news broke of Ghosn's alleged behaviour, both Nissan and Renault reaffirmed their commitment to the carmaking venture.

Ghosn is one of the global auto industry's top executives.

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"Nissan deeply apologizes for causing great concern to our shareholders and stakeholders", the automaker said today.

"This is an act that can not be tolerated by the company", he said.

"We need to really look back at what happened, take it seriously and take fundamental countermeasures", he said.

Mr Ghosn is also in charge of the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi alliance - the world's biggest car-selling group.

Brazilian-born, of Lebanese descent and a French citizen, he began his career at Michelin in France before moving on to Renault.

French President Emmanuel Macron warned Paris would be "extremely vigilant" about the stability of Renault and the three-firm alliance after Ghosn's arrest.

The company has also been cooperating with an investigation by the Japanese Public Prosecutors Office. But experts said it is unlikely he will be able to stay on there or at Renault, where is also CEO.

He is credited with saving Nissan from bankruptcy through measures including closing plants and restructuring, and he has instant name recognition in Japan, where he is a rare high-profile foreign executive.

But he remained out of the spotlight previous 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.

He also never made it a secret that he believed there were too many carmakers in the world and consolidation would continue - in 2016 he added Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp to the alliance.

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