Business / Corporate

Ghosn whistleblower Hari Nada reportedly under pressure to leave Nissan

by Kae Inoue and Ania Nussbaum

Bloomberg

A central figure at Nissan Motor Co. who was instrumental in the downfall of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn and a key go-between in the automaker’s talks with partner Renault SA is under pressure to leave the company following a pay scandal, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

The push to oust Hari Nada, 55, which has the support of Renault, may lead to him being forced to resign and could come as soon as a board meeting Tuesday, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

Nada is cooperating with prosecutors under a plea-bargaining agreement in their case against Ghosn for financial crimes, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

A lawyer who studied in the United States and Japan, Nada is a senior vice president at Nissan and worked in the chief executive’s office under Ghosn and his successor, Hiroto Saikawa.

Nada was recently implicated in a scandal at the company involving excess stock-linked compensation, which led to Saikawa’s resignation last month. Nada is expected to be a key witness in Ghosn’s trial next year.

“He will continuously be a Nissan member and he has no reason to leave,” Nissan spokeswoman Azusa Momose said of Nada, and declined to make him available for comment. Nada didn’t respond to an emailed message seeking comment and didn’t answer his phone when contacted by Bloomberg News. A representative for Renault declined to comment.

Nissan’s board is scheduled to meet Tuesday, where they will discuss candidates for CEO. The directors have set a deadline for the end of October to announce a new leader and are considering a short list of three candidates, sources said.

A Malaysian-born lawyer, Nada has been at Nissan since the 1990s and had worked closely with Greg Kelly, the other Nissan executive arrested along with Ghosn in November. Ghosn and Kelly have denied all charges.

Nada is said to have been closely involved with many aspects of the chairman’s compensation, serving as one of three administrators of Zi-A Capital BV, a Dutch subsidiary of Nissan created by Kelly that purchased a house for Ghosn in Beirut.

Nada was also aware of documents proposing that payments totaling as much as $80 million be made to Ghosn after his eventual retirement, sources have said.

Prior to Ghosn’s arrest, Nada and an administrator named Toshiaki Onuma were said to have become concerned that some of what they saw might be criminal, and eventually approached the authorities. Facing the risk of becoming subjects of interest in the inquiry, they secured cooperation agreements under new judicial rules allowing plea bargains in exchange for providing evidence against Ghosn.

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