YOKOHAMA, Japan — Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said Chairman Carlos Ghosn will be removed from office this week following a months-long internal investigation into financial misdeeds. Ghosn and another Nissan executive, Representative Director Greg Kelly, also face criminal charges in Japan.
“We have confirmed these two are the masterminds,” Saikawa told the Asahi newspaper, adding that “The alliance partnership itself will not be affected by this event. … This is a negative impact of the long regime of Mr. Ghosn. This is a good opportunity to revise the way we work.”
Ghosn, 64, rose to international prominence during his long tenure with Renault and, starting in 1999, Nissan, in which Renault owns a controlling share. The Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese descent earned the nicknames “Le Cost Killer” and “Mr. Fix It” after restructuring both companies and was at times urged to run for president in Lebanon. In 2016, he was appointed to oversee the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, a cross-shareholding agreement that formed the world’s third-largest auto manufacturing group.
Ghosn and Kelly, 62, are accused of systematically underreporting Ghosn’s income in official filings with the Tokyo Stock Exchange. At a press conference, Saikawa said Nissan’s investigation also revealed Ghosn misused company assets and corporate investment funds for personal gain. Ghosn reportedly earned about $10 million from Nissan alone in 2016; he also earns income from Renault and Mitsubishi.
In a statement preceding the press conference, Nissan noted the company had been sharing information with the Japanese Public Prosecutor’s Office as the investigation progressed. Prosecutors in Japan announced Ghosn was arrested there Monday evening.