Sunday, 25 August, 2019

Ghosn still in 'very difficult' conditions in Japan cell: lawyer

Carlos Ghosn at the Renault factory in Maubeuge northern France Carlos Ghosn at the Renault factory in Maubeuge northern France
Russell Knight | 31 January, 2019, 17:46

Ousted Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn claimed his arrest in Japan was the result of "plot and treason" by the vehicle maker's executives who opposed his plans for closer ties with French auto giant Renault.

Mr Ghosn, who spearheaded the turnaround of Nissan two decades ago, said he wanted to include Mitsubishi's chief executive Osamu Masuko in the discussions, but that Mr Saikawa had preferred the talks be "one-on-one".

The U.S. financial regulator is examining whether Nissan's executive-pay disclosures were accurate and whether the carmaker had adequate controls to prevent improper payments, several people familiar with the matter said.

He said he ultimately wanted to ensure there would be "autonomy under one holding company" once the businesses were more closely integrated.

Ghosn told the Nikkei he had no intention of fleeing and wants to defend himself in court.

He said a Nissan probe had uncovered "substantial and convincing evidence of misconduct" and that the firm's focus is "firmly on addressing the weaknesses in governance" that allowed this misconduct to happen.

He also stands accused of a complex scheme to try to pass off personal foreign exchange losses to Nissan and using company funds to reimburse a Saudi contact who stumped up collateral for him.

After his arrest, he was sacked as chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi.

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Ghosn also called accusations by both Nissan and Mitsubishi that he received almost 8 million euros in improper payment through a Dutch-based joint venture of the two automakers "a distortion of reality", and argued his luxury residences in Rio de Janeiro and Beirut were approved by Nissan's legal department.

But Ghosn rejected the characterisation of his tenure as a "dictatorship".

"All the evidence is with Nissan and Nissan forbids all employees to talk to me", he added.

He stressed that the purchases were approved by the legal department. He justified the houses on the grounds that he "needed a safe place where [he] can work and receive people in both Brazil and Lebanon".

The arrests have cost Ghosn his positions at Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault, and his absence has led to questions about the alliance's future.

The three companies which form the alliance are expected to revisit how it is operated in the absence of Ghosn's leadership.

Ghosn declined to say if he had made a decision to remove Saikawa, but added that when a company's performance declines, no CEO is immune from being fired. The French government, Renault's largest shareholder, has previously requested Ghosn make the relationship between the two automakers "irreversible".

The newspaper said Ghosn did not appear exhausted or flustered and when asked about his health, he said he was "doing fine".

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