NISSAN chairman Carlos Ghosn has been arrested over claims of financial misconduct, the Japanese car manufacturer announced last night.
He will also be sacked after a board meeting of the company on Thursday, chief executive Hiroto Saikawa insisted. The 64-year-old has been accused of “significant acts of misconduct”, including under-reporting his pay package and personal use of company assets. It is understood he under-reported an amount totalling £34million over a five-year period from 2011, prompting Nissan to issue a grovelling apology to shareholders.
The company, which employs 7,000 workers at its European headquarters in Sunderland, said: “Nissan deeply apologises for causing great concern to our shareholders and stakeholders.” It suspects that “over many years” Mr Ghosn and fellow senior executive Greg Kelly had been “reporting compensation amounts in the Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report that were less than the actual amount”.
“Numerous other significant acts of misconduct have been uncovered, such as personal use of company assets,” added a spokesman for the firm which has been conducting an internal investigation for several months, prompted by a whistleblower. Mr Saikawa will propose to the board that Mr Ghosn and Mr Kelly be dismissed, citing “clear violations of duty of care as directors”.
When asked whether he thought he was paid too much, Mr Ghosn had previously said: “You won’t have any CEO say, ‘I’m overly compensated’. It’s not up to me, the board is sovereign on this.” Mr Ghosn is also chairman of Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors and chief executive of Renault. Under his tenure the three carmakers formed an alliance to rival Volkswagen and Toyota, selling 10.6million vehicles last year. Together Renault, Mitsubishi and Nissan employ more than 470,000 people in almost 200 countries. Brazilian-born Mr Ghosn, who has French citizenship, has been a titan of the motor industry for two decades. He was responsible for a dramatic turnaround at Nissan in the early 2000s when the car firm was on the verge of bankruptcy. He earned the nickname the “cost-killer” for slashing jobs and closing factories and is a rare foreign top executive in Japan.
He sought personal assurances from Prime Minister Theresa May that car manufacturing would not be harmed in the aftermath of the EU referendum. He recently said a so-called “hard Brexit” would have a disastrous effect on jobs in Sunderland. Nissan’s reputation has been under scrutiny since it admitted falsifying emissions tests earlier this year. It also transpired last September that unauthorised technicians were allowed to inspect cars for the Japanese market.