Saturday , August 13 2022

Nissan ignites Carlos Ghosn after 20 years of government


Nissan's giant management board decided on Thursday to lay off its iconic president Carlos Ghosn, who was detained in Tokyo for alleged malpractice, a hitherto unimaginable decline for the Japanese producer.

The Alliance with its long-standing French partner Renault "remains intact," Nissan's leadership insisted after the extraordinary meeting that lasted more than four hours at the headquarters of the Yokohama group, a suburb of the Japanese capital. .

Behind closed doors, six men and one woman unanimously considered that the suspicions of the almighty boss were sufficient to remove him from his presidential post.

Nissan justifies in a statement this radical decision by "confirmed serious acts," stating "a minimization of its revenue for a long time in the financial reports, a fraudulent use for private purposes of investment funds and expenditure reports."

This recall marks the end of nearly 20 years at Nissan's leadership, most of the time as CEO and then chairman of the board. He faces the same punishment at Mitsubishi Motors, which joined the alliance in 2016: a board of directors will meet on Monday, according to a spokesman for the company, but Renault's executive director "temporarily hindered."

Carlos Ghosn's life, which united these three manufacturers to become number one in the world, suddenly quit when his plane landed on Monday in Japan. Immediately after being arrested, he remained silent from then on in his cell in a Tokyo detention center.

– "Serious mistake" –

Hiroto Saikawa, the chief executive of the manufacturer in April 2017, proposed to the other members of the council to exempt Mr Ghosn, estimating "in the experts' opinion that such a decision was warranted."

Formally, the French in Lebanon and Brazil are accused of having "cut back five times the repayments in the June 2011 to June 2015 reports," declaring financial services a total of 4.9 billion yen (about 37 million) instead of nearly 10 billion yen.

"This kind of distortion is one of the most serious mistakes in the legislation imposed on listed companies," Tokyo's deputy prosecutor Shin Kukimoto said on Thursday.

However, he did not want to give details about the ongoing investigation or the number of hours of hearings conducted each day, as the Japanese media revealed about the mistakes of the 64-year-old tycoon.

Ghosn's suspicions stemmed from an internal investigation conducted by Nissan in recent months, but are currently in police custody just for false tax declarations.

On Wednesday, the court decided to extend his detention for 10 days to continue investigations. And this period could extend far beyond that, according to the rules of the Japanese judiciary.

The businessman received visits from the French ambassador and the Brazilian consul, who found him "in good shape".

The Nissan Group, as a legal person, may also be theoretically also prosecuted, the prosecutor's representative said.

– A fusion in question? –

At Renault, the attention is currently fine. The board of directors asked Nissan "to send him all the information in his possession as part of the internal investigations to which Mr Ghosn was the subject."

Believing that he would not be able to decide the merits of the case, the French producer took steps to secure the interim, entrusted to the second company, Thierry Bolloré.

Confronted with this business, which has shaken the alliance as never before since its birth in 1999, the French government has made reassuring statements about the future of the diamond manufacturer, whose state holds 15%.

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday that there was a "solid" but "provisional" government to allow Renault to continue its activities.

He will meet with his Japanese counterpart, Hiroshige Seko, in Paris on Thursday afternoon to discuss the long-term nature of the partnership and its "expansion."

While in Japan the tone is officially the same, the local press is full of anonymous Nissan officials saying the group wants to revise its structure, "a prerequisite for continuing it," according to a lecturer.

One of the objectives would be the change in cross-shareholdings: Renault holds 43% of Nissan, but the Japanese, which dominates its ally in terms of turnover, has only 15%, a situation that has long been captured in the archipelago.

According to the Nikkei daily, quoting a Nissan executive director, Carlos Ghosn sought to integrate the two groups and "it was possible for a concrete plan to be prepared in the spring of next year," a merger scenario openly rejected by Mr. Saikawa.

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