TOKYO – Carlos Ghosn, one of the automotive industry’s most powerful leaders, lost another title on Monday when the Mitsubishi Motors Board removed him as president one week after he was arrested in Tokyo with suspicions of economic misconduct
Mr.. Ghosn, removed by the presidency of Nissan last week in a unanimous vote on the board, remains in a detention center in Tokyo, where he sees his lawyer for about an hour or so every day. He is questioned by prosecutors after Nissan said he underestimated his income to Japanese regulators for several years. He has not been subject to any crime.
Mr. Masuko added that if Ghosn continued as president, it could reveal Mitsubishi to “rumoric”.
It has been a remarkably quick fall from grace for Mr. Ghosn. He has long been admired in Japan, where Nissan employs over 22,000 people and Mitsubishi employs more than 30,000. He was known as the man who saved Nissan and became one of his generation’s most successful executives when he orchestrated an alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi effectively made the group the world’s largest car dealer.
Prosecutors have also been questioned Greg Kelly, a former Nissan Human Resources Director, who was also removed from the company’s board last week over allegations that he co-operated with Ghosn to notify Mr Ghosn’s government bond repayment and to use corporate human resources expenses. Nissan has described Mr. Kelly as “the champion of this matter, along with Carlos Ghosn.”
In his first remarks to the news media, Yoichi Kitamura, a lawyer representing Kelly, said his client denied the allegations. “He said he did not deliberately underestimate the executive remuneration that should be reported in the securities report or instructed others to do so,” Kitamura said in an interview with The New York Times.
Mr. Kitamura said that Kelly would be held for at least Friday but that his detention could be extended for 10 days. He said he expected prosecutors to prosecute after an extension of the question.
Like Mr. Ghosn, Mr. Kelly in a room of about 50 square meters. “The room is very small,” said Kitamura. “It’s inhumane.”
Mr. Ghosn has not seen any family members, although he has been visited by the French ambassador and Brazilian consul. Mr Ghosn holds both French and Brazilian citizenship.
His lawyer in Japan, Motonari Otsuru, did not return calls that sought comments. Earlier prosecutors have described the interrogation process, where suspects may not get their attorneys present during the matter.
Some critics have questioned how Ghosn has been imprisoned. The President of the Foreign Ministry’s Club in Japan spoke on Monday, a former prosecutor, Nobuo Gohara, who described the Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office as “very ruthless and dangerous.”
“I would have thought that being careful would be the norm,” said gohara “But in this case, I feel they have not been careful.”
Mr. Gohara said he was concerned that prosecutors had not gathered enough evidence to support an arrest.
The news of Ghosn’s arrest and detention has led business environments in Japan and France, where Renault, Nissan’s largest shareholder, will conduct an internal review of Mr Ghosn’s finances this week, Bruno Le Maire, the French Minister of Economy, said on Sunday. The French Government owns 15 percent of Renault.
Mr. Le Maire said that Nissan had not yet shared information about Mr Ghosn’s alleged misdemeanors with the French government and Renault, where Ghosn is still president and chief executive officer. “We have no information,” said Le Maire to BFM TV.
Renault and Nissan executives are planning to assemble Wednesday in Amsterdam for a routine operational meeting. While the meeting was planned before Ghosn’s arrest, they are likely to discuss the fate of the alliance.
The Japanese news media reported that Hiroto Saikawa, Nissan’s Managing Director, told workers at a corporate meeting Monday morning that he wanted to review the alliance with Renault, which owns 43 percent of Nissan, because it is “not equal”. According to news reports, he told employees that he wanted the Alliance to better reflect “Nissan’s will”.
At a news conference in Nissan’s headquarters on November 19, the night of Ghosn’s arrest, Saikawa told reporters that he had reflected on Nissan’s corporate governance and in what way concentrated power with Ghosn.