Business / Corporate

Nissan concludes internal probe into alleged financial misconduct by former Chairman Carlos Ghosn

Kyodo

Nissan Motor Co.’s internal investigation into former Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s alleged financial misconduct has been completed and the results will be reported to its board meeting next week, sources close to the matter said Saturday.

Nissan, which will convene the meeting on Monday, will consider punishments for executives based on the findings and speed up the process of finalizing the amount of damages it will seek in a planned lawsuit against Ghosn, they said.

Ghosn, who led the automaker for two decades before his arrest in November last year, has claimed innocence.

The contents of the probe, led by Nissan’s audit committee formed by members including external directors, will not likely be made public, given that they could influence the court proceedings of his cases.

Ghosn’s defense counsel said earlier this week his first hearing could be held in March at the Tokyo District Court.

Nissan’s in-house probe has led to Ghosn’s arrest through a plea-bargain deal between the carmaker’s senior officials and prosecutors.

According to the probe, Ghosn ordered Nissan to purchase or refurbish luxurious homes and pay for his golf club membership, among other uses of company funds and assets for his private purposes, company officials said earlier.

A joint investigation with Nissan’s alliance partner, Mitsubishi Motors Corp., has also found Ghosn “illegally” received around €7.82 million ($8.6 million) in remuneration from their joint venture in the Netherlands, according to the two automakers.

Ghosn is facing trial for allegedly underreporting his remuneration by around ¥9 billion ($84 million) over eight years and diverting company funds to an investment firm he effectively owns.

In a case separate from Ghosn, the board will also consider disciplinary measures against President and CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who admitted Thursday he was overpaid by an equity-linked remuneration scheme run by Nissan, in a further blow to the company which is trying to recover in the aftermath of Ghosn’s arrest.

Saikawa has said he did not order the payment and will return the excess amount to Nissan.

Greg Kelly, Ghosn’s former close aide, accused of conspiring to underreport his remuneration, said in a magazine interview published in June that Saikawa manipulated the execution date of his stock appreciation rights so as to receive an additional gain of ¥47 million.

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