Nissan to oust Chairman after finding ‘significant acts of misconduct’

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The Japanese vehicle manufacturing giant said it had been conducting an internal investigation for several months which showed Ghosn had been under-reporting his pay package and identified "Numerous other significant acts of misconduct" including "personal use of company assets".

In a statement, prosecutors said Ghosn, 64, had reported income of 4.9 billion yen (S$70.6 million) over five years when his actual income for that period had been almost 10 billion yen.

Saikawa said Nissan's board will vote Thursday on dismissing Ghosn and Kelly, whom he described as the mastermind of the alleged abuses.

Ghosn and his Nissan colleague, Representative Director Greg Kelly, allegedly submitted false numbers to the Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report.

"Numerous other significant acts of misconduct have been uncovered, such as personal use of company assets", Nissan (NSANY) added.

Nissan will appoint third party investigators made up of external directors to get to the bottom of the misconduct, Hiroto Saikawa, Nissan's chief executive said at a press conference on Monday.

The allegations also involve Nissan's representative director Greg Kelly.

Renault board's lead independent director issued a statement Monday saying only that the board would meet soon and that he and two other independent directors wished to express their "dedication to the defense of Renault's interest in the alliance". In addition to this, he received €9.2 million in his final year as Nissan chief executive.

Mr Ghosn had already begun shedding some of his responsibilities - he stepped down as chief executive of Nissan past year, and recently offloaded some day to day responsibilities at Renault as well.

Renault shares tumbled 13 per cent in Paris to be among the worst performing stocks in Europe.

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Nissan said it was providing information to the prosecutors and cooperating with their investigation.

"You're going to see clusters of carmakers, of tech companies, software companies, align together in order to bring this offer to the market", the executive said in an interview last month.

Ghosn signed a contract earlier this year that would have run through 2022.

Kelly, 62, became a corporate officer in 2008 before eventually assuming the post of one of its three representative board members.

Interviewed by The Japan Times on Monday evening, Toru Takahashi, a public official from Tokyo who was testing Nissan cars at the firm's Yokohama headquarters, voiced incredulity. He joined Nissan in 1999 after Renault bought a controlling stake and became its chief executive in 2001.

Ghosn was one of the first executives to champion electric cars, and he also developed a range of low-priced cars for emerging markets.

The scandal reverberated across the globe and abruptly threw into question Ghosn's future as leader of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, which sold 10.6 million cars past year, more than any other manufacturer.

The Alliance was not immediately available for comment.

Known as "Le Cost Killer", Ghosn is credited with reviving Nissan and has remained popular despite the massive job cuts that he brought and recent controversy over his lucrative pay package.

That involvement has presented headaches for Ghosn and Nissan before, particularly when it comes to the chairman's compensation.

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