The fall of Carlos Ghosn

Virginia Carson
November 21, 2018

Nissan Motor Co. sank deeper into crisis Wednesday as it emerged the vehicle giant could itself face charges over alleged financial misconduct that has already led to the stunning arrest of its chairman, Carlos Ghosn.

Ghosn is accused of under-reporting income of about $44 million and misusing company funds at Nissan, where he was also chairman.

Monday's arrest of the millionaire auto tycoon, who is credited with turning around the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Motors alliance, sent shockwaves through the global vehicle sector and corporate Japan.

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In a stunning fall from grace for the once-loved tycoon, Ghosn was arrested after arriving in Tokyo on his private jet on Monday.

Prosecutors said that between fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2014, Ghosn and Kelly conspired to falsely report Ghosn's income at about 4.987 billion yen in Nissan's annual securities reports when in fact he received about 9.998 billion yen.

Following Ghosn and Kelly's arrests, which were based in part on evidence gathered in a Nissan internal investigation, details have begun to emerge on some of the alleged financial transgressions the pair are suspected of. Saikawa did say that Nissan was committed to the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, and that was echoed in Renault's statement. Although the amount is much smaller than had been indicated by sources a day earlier, Ghosn is also believed to have gained from compensation linked to stock prices.

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Renault is opting to wait for the Japanese investigation, allowing Ghosn to keep his job as CEO and position as board chairman.

"Ghosn is likely the most successful foreign chairman in Japan", said Kosuke Sato, a senior economist at the Japan Research Institute.

Set to leave Renault in 2022, Ghosn had been laying the groundwork to ensure a future for the alliance, including the option of a merger. Le Maire said authorities have examined Ghosn's tax situation in France but have found no wrongdoing. "What he did was unprecedented in Japanese corporate history". On the other hand, Nissan owns just 15 percent of Renault which gives it no voting rights or control over its French partner.

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Even when his reputation was sky-high, he attracted criticism for a flashy lifestyle at odds with traditional Japanese corporate culture and over his salary - an estimated €13 million in total previous year. There have also been reports that he charged travel expenses for family vacations.

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