Nissan to decide on Ghosn’s dismissal as chairman after arrest

Nissan Motor Co. is set to decide on the removal of Carlos Ghosn as chairman at a board meeting Thursday following his arrest for alleged financial misconduct, marking an abrupt end to his nearly two decades of charismatic leadership.

His close aide Greg Kelly is also poised to be dismissed as representative director after the company’s probe uncovered his «deep involvement» in «significant acts of misconduct» by Ghosn, including using company assets for personal gain and understating pay in securities reports presented to Japanese regulators.

Ghosn, also chairman of the three-way alliance between Nissan, Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., is suspected of instructing Kelly to tamper with the reports, according to sources close to the matter.

Kelly then ordered his two direct subordinates — an executive in charge of legal affairs and a senior employee — to manipulate the documents, the sources said, adding Ghosn involved only close subordinates to conceal the alleged wrongdoing.

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Both the executive and the senior employee have reached a plea-bargain agreement with prosecutors and are likely to have submitted evidence related to the matter, they said. The prosecutors believe the executive was also involved in the purchase of overseas residences for use by Ghosn with company money.

Even if Ghosn and Kelly are dismissed from their positions at the board meeting, both will stay on as members of the Japanese automaker’s board. Nissan needs to gain shareholders’ approval to oust the two from the board.

Following Ghosn’s arrest Monday, Nissan Chief Executive Officer Hiroto Saikawa said he would propose removing Ghosn and Kelly at a board meeting, citing the findings of a months-long internal investigation launched after a whistleblower report revealed their alleged misconduct.

The Brazilian-born Frenchman was arrested for allegedly violating Japan’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Act by underreporting his remuneration by a total of about 5 billion yen ($ 44 million) over five years to March 2015. Kelly was also arrested on suspicion of conspiring with Ghosn.

Ghosn, known as a savage cost-cutter, helped saved Nissan from near bankruptcy after he was sent to the company by Renault and became chief operating officer in June 1999, three months after the French and Japanese carmakers forged a capital alliance.

He propelled growth under the alliance after becoming president in 2000 and chief executive the following year. He held the CEO post until 2017 while concurrently serving as chairman beginning in 2008.

All — Kyodo News+

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