Nissan reportedly to fire chairman Carlos Ghosn over misconduct

Irving Hamilton
November 20, 2018

Carlos Ghosn, the chairman of Nissan and one of the world's most powerful motor industry bosses, is reportedly under arrest in Japan over allegations of financial misconduct.

The firm said it has also uncovered evidence of other "significant acts of misconduct" by Ghosn.

In a statement Nissan said it had been conducting an internal investigation into "serious misconduct" by Ghosn and representative director Greg Kelly following a whistleblower's report.

Earlier in the day, Ghosn was questioned on a voluntary basis by prosecutors from the special investigation section of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, people close to the investigation said. Nissan seeks to remove both Ghosn and Kelly.

The company said it would brief reporters on Monday night, with Japanese media reporting this would take place at 9 p.m. Tokyo time (12:00 GMT) to provide details.

Ghosn is also the chairman and chief executive of France's Renault and chairman of Mitsubishi Motors.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi's CEO Carlos Ghosn has been arrested in Japan on charges of not reporting his full compensation, along with Representative Director Greg Kelly.

Renault shares tumbled about 10% in afternoon trading in Paris.

Ghosn has been regarded as the glue holding together the sprawling alliance of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi, and questions have been raised in the past about how his eventual departure might affect the coalition. Mr Ghosn had already begun shedding some of his responsibilities - he stepped down as chief executive of Nissan previous year, and recently offloaded some day to day responsibilities at Renault as well.

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Besides being chairman of Nissan, the 64-year-old is also CEO of Renault and leads the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance.

Speaking at Nissan's headquarters in Yokohama, Saikawa said the company's management will focus on minimising the impact of the shake-up on the company and its employees.

"We need to really look back at what happened, take it seriously and take fundamental countermeasures", he said. He said as recently as last month that he planned to stay on until 2020, although he stepped down from the top job at Nissan a year ago, amid reports that the companies plan to change the alliance's structure, possibly through a merger.

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

Nissan said in a statement.

Emmanuel Macron, the French President, said the government's focus was stability at the Alliance, particularly when it comes to French workers' jobs.

He became Renault's CEO in 2005, pressing for further streamlining through joint procurement and development under the Nissan-Renault alliance.

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.

"The last thing one of the world's biggest automakers needs is the disruption caused by an investigation into the behaviour of a man who has towered over the global auto sector", said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in London.

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