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Detained Ghosn keeps denying money misconduct allegations: sources

Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn continues to deny allegations of financial misconduct against him, and says he will not make a false confession, sources close to the matter said Monday.

The 64-year-old, who is known for rescuing Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy in the 1990s, was arrested last month for allegedly understating his compensation, and subsequently ousted as chairman of the automaker.

Ghosn is accused of breaching the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act by reporting only 5 billion yen ($ 44 million) of his 10 billion yen compensation during the five years through March 2015.

Ghosn’s annual compensation was set at around 2 billion yen, and he is charged with failing to report around half of the amount that he was to receive after stepping down.

The charismatic automotive industry figure has told prosecutors that it was unnecessary to report some of his remuneration as the payment had yet to be settled, according to different sources with knowledge of the investigation.

Ghosn was quoted as saying that remuneration was just an amount he hoped to receive.

According to the sources, Ghosn said he consulted with a close aide, Greg Kelly, 62, a former Nissan representative director who was arrested along with Ghosn for alleged conspiracy, and was told by Kelly that it was legal not to report the post-retirement payment.

The post-retirement compensation that went unreported for eight years through March 2018 is believed to have totaled more than 8 billion yen.

Ghosn and Kelly were arrested Nov. 19 and their detention period will expire Monday next week, if not renewed again.

The detention may be extended as prosecutors are considering charging Ghosn regarding another 4 billion yen he allegedly failed to disclose over three years through last March.

Nissan’s remuneration to Ghosn and other executives in fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017 may have exceeded the 2.99 billion yen cap that was adopted at a general shareholders’ meeting in 2008, after taking into account the former chairman’s actual payments.

In the business year ending in March 2017, Ghosn may have received around 2.5 billion yen, even though the remuneration stated in the report was around 1 billion, sources close to the matter said Monday.

That fiscal year, Nissan’s other executives pay packages totaled 738 million yen.

Also in the past year through March, the company’s securities report said only 735 million yen was paid to Ghosn. But the sources said the actual amount may have been about 2.5 billion yen, making it two years in a row that Nissan exceeded its cap for executive compensation.

And that could be viewed as a «grave breach of trust» to shareholders, leading to the delisting of the company, some experts say.

Under Nissan’s rules, remuneration payments for each executive should be decided through talks involving the board’s chair and representative board members. But the sources believe that Ghosn alone had been effectively deciding how much he was paid.

All — Kyodo News+

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