Business / Corporate

Aide to ousted Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn reportedly crafted document detailing post-retirement payout

JIJI

A document showing post-retirement remuneration for former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn may have been created by his close aide, Greg Kelly, a former representative director of the automaker, informed sources said Monday.

The special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office obtained the document and judged that the future payout should have been booked in securities reports, the sources said.

The prosecutors believe that a total of some ¥8 billion planned for post-retirement pay for Ghosn was concealed between fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2017.

Ghosn, 64, and Kelly, 62, were arrested last week for allegedly understating the former chairman’s executive pay by over ¥5 billion in total in securities reports over the five years through fiscal 2014, which ended in March 2015.

According to a source familiar with the situation, Nissan discovered the document in question during its internal investigation, which was launched based on a whistleblowing report.

Kelly apparently drew up the document after Japan introduced a system requiring listed companies to disclose names of their executives earning ¥100 million or more in remuneration, beginning with earnings reports for the business year ended in March 2010.

About half of Ghosn’s actual annual remuneration totaling some ¥2 billion was shown in the document, without any description about the purpose of the payout, the source said.

The scheme was apparently aimed at preventing Ghosn’s huge income from being disclosed under the mandatory system.

Kelly said after his arrest that the post-retirement remuneration was sort of consultant fees for Ghosn, that the specific amount of the future payout had not been decided and that the remuneration was not subject to the mandatory reporting, according to another source.

Kelly claimed that the remuneration was also designed to prevent Ghosn from engaging in operations of rival companies after his retirement, the source said.

Ghosn is suspected of ordering Kelly to report only some ¥1 billion as the former chairman’s annual remuneration to escape criticism over his high executive pay, according to informed sources.

Ghosn is believed to have denied allegations against him during interrogations by prosecutors.

Kelly told people close to him that Ghosn had never instructed him to underreport the pay of Nissan’s ousted chairman, the sources said.