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Ghosn’s understated remuneration may reach 12 bil. yen: sources

Nissan Motor Co.’s ousted chairman Carlos Ghosn is believed to have underreported his remuneration since fiscal 2010 by around 12 billion yen ($ 106 million), including the 5 billion yen that led to his arrest, sources close to the matter said Friday.

Ghosn, whose nearly two decades of charismatic leadership came to a sudden end following his arrest Monday over alleged financial misconduct, gave written directions to a close aide over what to write down in securities reports, according to the sources.

At an emergency board meeting Thursday, Ghosn was dismissed as chairman and the aide, Greg Kelly, who was arrested on suspicion of conspiring with Ghosn, was fired from the position of representative director.

The meeting lasted for several hours, with some of the seven board members who attended expressing surprise as they were shown copies of ledgers and records as evidence of Ghosn’s misdeeds, the sources said.

Two board members from Renault SA, Nissan’s alliance partner, initially appeared to be reluctant to vote for the dismissal of Ghosn and Kelly in the absence of the two, but eventually agreed to do so as they apparently found the documents indisputable, they said.

One sources said the board members from Renault seem to have been «representing the voices of France.»

The 64-year-old Ghosn, who was dispatched by Renault in 1999 as part of a capital tie-up to save Nissan from bankruptcy, solidified his position as he buoyed Nissan’s profits through plant closures, mass layoffs and other aggressive cost-cutting measures.

But he was arrested by Tokyo prosecutors for allegedly reporting remuneration about 4.99 billion yen less than he had actually received over five years from April 2010. He is believed to have received nearly 100 billion yen in the period.

The prosecutors are also considering building a case against allegedly underreporting a further 3 billion yen in remuneration received over three years from April 2015.

Ghosn is also suspected to have not reported about 4 billion yen from stock appreciation rights, a scheme similar to stock options that pays bonuses to executives if a company’s share price rises above a certain level.

Ghosn also allegedly used company-bought residences in the Netherlands, Brazil, France and Lebanon without paying rent, while making the company pay for family trips and his private wining and dining expenses.

The dramatic fall from grace of Ghosn came after a months-long internal investigation of Nissan triggered by a whistleblower report.

Through the internal probe, Nissan found documents recording the actual sums of remuneration Ghosn received and the figures to write down in securities reports, the sources said.

The papers are believed to have been passed to Kelly who, in turn, made other senior officials actually falsify the securities statements, according to the sources.

All — Kyodo News+

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