YOKOHAMA, Japan / PARIS (Reuters) – Nissan Motor Cos ( 7201.T ) Board unanimously voted to oust President Carlos Ghosn…
YOKOHAMA, Japan / PARIS (Reuters) – Nissan Motor Cos ( 7201.T ) Board unanimously voted to oust President Carlos Ghosn on Thursday after shocking the industry’s heavyweight, with a period of uncertainty for his 19-year-old alliance with Renault ( RENA.PA ).
The Japanese firm said its board also voted to remove Greg Kelly – as Ghosn has been arrested for allegations of financial misconception – from his post as representative leader.
The relocations, leaving the chairman vacant, came despite Renault calling on Nissan’s board for its meeting to delay Ghosn being removed. Sources near the case told Reuters.
The franco-Japanese alliance, extended in 201
6 to include Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors ( 7211.T ) has come to its core by the arrest of 64-year-old Ghosn in Japan on Monday.
Ghosn had shaped the alliance and pushed for a deeper commitment, including possibly a complete fusion of Renault-Nissan at the French Government’s request, despite strong reservations by the Japanese company.
Japanese prosecutors said Ghosn and Kelly collaborated to undermine Ghosn’s replacement at Nissan for five years from 2010, saying that it was about half of the actual $ 10 billion yen ($ 88 million).
Shin Kukimoto, Deputy Prosecutor of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office, said Thursday that the court’s approval was received a day earlier to seize Ghosn for 10 days but he could not comment if he had acknowledged the allegations.
Nissan executives have five seats of nine members, Renault loyalists have two seats and the remaining two are held by unaffiliated external board members, a former bureaucrat and a racing driver.
A street watcher showing a news report on the arrest of Nissan President Carlos Ghosn is being seen at the Christmas lights in Tokyo, Japan on November 21, 2018. REUTERS / Toru Hanai
With Ghosn and Kelly still in detention, none of whom could vote or defend themselves at the meeting.
Renault has refrained from shooting Ghosn as chairman and chief executive officer.
But Mitsubishi Motors plans to remove Ghosn from his post as chairman at a board meeting next week.
Together with growing uncertainty over the alliance’s future, Japan’s minister of finance and France’s finance minister will meet in Paris on Thursday to seek ways to stabilize it.
“To me, the future of the alliance is the bigger deal,” said a leading Nissan official to reporters on Wednesday when asked about Ghosn’s arrest. “It is obvious that at this age we have to do things together. Sharing would be impossible.”
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Nissan said Monday that an internal investigation triggered by A tip-off from an informant had revealed that Ghosn committed himself to inaccuracies including personal use of company money and underreporting his profits for several years.
Ghosn and Kelly have not commented on the charges and Reuters has not been able to reach them.
Prosecutors said Ghosn was held in Tokyo detention center, known for its strict regime, far from its usual luxury lifestyle, including restrictions on sleeping during the day and a requirement to wear a mask when meeting visitors to prevent the spread of disease.
The prison house “is quite cold at this time,” said Internet entrepreneur and verdict fraud Takufumi Horie their followers on Twitter.
Motonari Otsuru, a former prosecutor who is known to monitor the case against Horie, was employed as Ghosn’s lawyer, reported the NHK. Otsurus law firm refused to confirm that he represented Ghosn and said that no one was available for comments.
Asahi Shimbun said on Thursday that Ghosn had notified Kelly’s order by email to make false statements about his replacement. Tokyo prosecutors probably seized the related emails and can use them as evidence, said the report.
Yomiuri, Japan’s largest circulation daily, quoted named sources, said Nissan’s internal investigation found that Ghosn had since 2002 instructed that approximately $ 100,000 a year be paid to his older sister in return for an unanswered advisory role.
The paper said that Nissan had found through the investigation that Ghosn’s sister had actually lived in and managed a luxury apartment in Rio de Janeiro that the company had purchased through a foreign subsidiary but had not done any advisory work for the car maker. Nissan has shared the information with prosecutors, Yomiuri said.
The shares in Nissan closed 0.8 percent, in line with a broader market .N225, before the Board meeting.
Reporting by Sam Nussey in TOKYO, Maki Shiraki in YOKOHAMA and Laurence Frost in PARIS; Further reprint by Chang Ran Kim and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Write by Ritsuko Ando; Editing Muralikumar Anantharaman and Mark Potter
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