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Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Friday that Steven Torok, executive vice president in charge of overseas sales, left the company the same day to return to the Chrysler Group.

While the embattled automaker refused to say why Torok resigned, the move is widely seen as Torok taking the blame for the poor sales and financial woes of a MMC unit in North America due to its loose credit controls.

Lax auto-loan screening at the North American financial unit resulted in losses on defaulted auto loans, forcing MMC to raise its group net loss estimate for the business year that ended March 31 to 72 billion yen from an earlier projected 11 billion yen.

The automaker said it will announce Torok’s successor in conjunction with the scheduled announcement on April 30 of its new restructuring plan. Until then, MMC President Rolf Eckrodt will also oversee the company’s international sales and marketing.

Torok joined the Japanese automaker as senior vice president in charge of international car operations in October 2000. He became executive vice president, and head of international sales and marketing in June 2002.

His departure brought the number of full-time MMC board members to four.

The company’s new restructuring program is being drafted under the initiative of DaimlerChrysler AG, the biggest shareholder in the automaker with a 37 percent equity stake. Earlier this week, it was reported that MMC will cease or cut back on Mitsubishi-brand vehicle production in North America.

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