Ghosn sacked as director; Nissan may claim damages

A Nissan Motor employee (left) welcoming shareholders ahead of the company's extraordinary meeting in Tokyo yesterday.
A Nissan Motor employee (left) welcoming shareholders ahead of the company's extraordinary meeting in Tokyo yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Carlos Ghosn faces a potentially more serious charge, as it could show he used company funds for his own purposes.
Carlos Ghosn faces a potentially more serious charge, as it could show he used company funds for his own purposes.

TOKYO • Nissan Motor shareholders ousted Carlos Ghosn as a director yesterday, severing his last link with the Japanese automaker he rescued from near-bankruptcy two decades ago and from which he is now accused of siphoning funds.

Days after Ghosn's latest arrest last Thursday in Tokyo, shareholders gathered for an extraordinary meeting, expressing bafflement about growing allegations of financial misconduct laid out before them - while seeking more clarity on how Nissan plans to recover from the scandal.

Meeting shareholders for the first time since Ghosn's initial arrest last November, Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa and Mr Jean-Dominique Senard, chairman of its alliance partner Renault, said they needed to focus on collaboration and improving governance at the Japanese company.

But they offered few concrete details about the way forward.

"I can't comprehend how this could have happened, despite having auditors," retired homemaker Setsuko Shibata said, adding that her family had held Nissan shares for decades. "I can't say I feel better about the situation after today's explanation."

Ghosn has denied all the allegations against him and said he is the victim of a boardroom coup.

Proceedings were at times interrupted by some hecklers on the floor of the meeting, which was attended by a near record-high 4,100 shareholders.

 
 
 

The shareholders voted to remove both Ghosn and co-accused Greg Kelly from Nissan's board of directors. Kelly has also denied the charges against him.

They also voted in Mr Senard as a director, a move that was widely seen as an attempt to assuage concern about the future of the Nissan-Renault automaking alliance engineered by Ghosn.

Prosecutors last week took the highly unusual step of re-arresting Ghosn - who had been out on US$9 million (S$12 million) bail - returning him to the Tokyo detention centre where he had previously spent more than 100 days.

According to the latest allegation, he is suspected of trying to enrich himself to the tune of US$5 million at the automaker's expense.

Ghosn was due to speak at a news conference this week, but instead a video statement from him will be shown today at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, said the club on its website.

Ghosn has been charged with under-reporting his Nissan salary for a decade, and of temporarily transferring personal financial losses to Nissan's books.

The new charge against him is potentially more serious, as it could show he used company funds for his own purposes.

Mr Saikawa said Nissan may claim damages against Ghosn.

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2019, with the headline 'Ghosn sacked as director; Nissan may claim damages'. Print Edition | Subscribe