The biggest news to rock Japan’s auto industry in years is still unfolding, but more information trickles in by the hour. Here are today’s developments.
At a press conference Monday night, current Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said the Renault-Nissan Alliance had become too dependent on just one person. Nissan has been embroiled in two scandals in the past year. In fall of 2017, it was revealed that the company had been conducting improper inspections on cars coming off the assembly line. In July 2018, Nissan had to recall 1.2 million cars for falsifying fuel efficiency data.
The board of Mitsubishi Motors said they would follow Nissan’s lead and likely remove Ghosn from his position as chairman, which he assumed after overseeing a 34 percent takeover by Nissan in 2016.
Several newspapers including the Nikkei and report that Ghosn kept houses in four countries. These houses found to have been purchased with ¥6 billion in Nissan money originally used to seed a “startup” in the Netherlands. However, just under $18 million of that was used to purchase houses for Ghosn in Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Beirut and Amsterdam. Ghosn was born in Brazil and raised in Lebanon.
NHK reported that Ghosn used company funds to take family vacations to the tune of tens of millions of yen, and pocketed money meant for other executives.
Reuters reports that the investigation is expanding into the Renault-Nissan Alliance, indicating that the future of the cross-country partnership might be in jeopardy.
Several outlets, including The Daily Beast and the Financial Times publish opinion pieces speculating that Ghosn was either scapegoated to prevent a deeper probe into a corruption at Nissan, or to prevent a Ghosn-planned merger between Renault and Nissan.
Renault held an emergency board meeting to decide Ghosn’s fate, but ended up keeping him on board as CEO and chairman. However, COO Thierry Bolloré would be given the title of Deputy CEO and all the power Ghosn wielded for now as Ghosn is “temporarily incapacitated.”
More on this story as it develops.