Disgraced former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has been accused of moving $15 million of personal losses to the car company’s accounts.
The former chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi is alleged to have shifted losses he made on his own investments to his employer in 2008.
His sacking as chairman of Nissan last week was over claims he allegedly swindled large sums of money from the company over several years.
Mitsubishi Motors executives ousted the 64-year-old as chairman yesterday following his arrest for alleged financial misconduct amid suggestions he under-reported his salary by as much as $71 million.
Prosecutors are looking into allegations he conspired with another executive, American Greg Kelly, to understate his income by around $44 million between June 2011 and June 2015.
Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn allegedly moved $15 million of personal losses to the car company’s accounts
Mitsubishi Motors Chairman and CEO Osamu Masuko announced yesterday the company was removing Ghosn as chairman
Brazilian-born Ghosn is believed to have had a flat in a Paris suburb bought for him by Nissan and spent £13.3 million ($17.8 million) on homes in Rio de Janeiro and Beirut, it was alleged.
One luxurious £2.7million penthouse apartment of Ghosn’s was raided by police after the Nissan chairman was arrested for alleged financial misconduct last Wednesday.
But today it emerged the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC) was aware of Ghosn’s alleged derivatives trading misconduct and notified the bank involved in the transaction.
Japanese media reported that Ghosn shifted personal investment losses incurred during the 2008 financial crisis to Nissan to avoid millions of dollars in losses for himself.
The SESC told the Japan Times there is a possibility that he committed an ‘aggravated breach of trust’ and that he admitted not including part of the total payment he was set to receive when he retires in securities reports.
Nissan took on losses during the global financial crisis in 2008 after Ghosn could not secure adequate collateral, a sources to the Japan Times.
Newspaper Asahi Shimbun said yesterday that authorities are planning to re-arrest Ghosn on charges of understating his income by a further three billion yen – for a total of $71 million – for the following three fiscal years.
It also emerged today Ghosn is suspected of using one of Nissan’s business jets for private trips, allegedly travelling aboard one of Nissan’s leased planes for personal journeys.
‘Huge sums’ were said to have been spent on homes for Ghosn in Rio de Janeiro, Beirut, Paris and Amsterdam. He is understood to have a penthouse in this apartment block in Tokyo
Carlos Ghosn is pictured, left, with his first wife, Rita, in 2008 and, right, with his second wife, Carole, in 2017
The jet was set aside for use solely by Ghosn, who flew to countries where the car-maker has no major offices or factories.
But these destinations included Beirut, where Ghosn had a bolt hole, said to have been paid for by the car giant.
This same Gulfstream jet was being used by Ghosn when he touched down in Tokyo from Lebanon yesterday afternoon, where he was met by an elite unit of prosecutors.
A white van pulled up onto the tarmac and a line of investigators from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office in dark suits rushed up the steps to interrogate the businessman.
Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa, who was known as one of ‘Ghosn’s children’, described at a press conference last night his ‘resentment and dismay’ at the allegations and lashed out at what he called ‘the dark side of the Ghosn era’.
Carlos Ghosn (left) and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation Chairman and CEO Osamu Masuko pictured together in October 2016
Carlos Ghosn, left, speaks as then Mitsubishi Motors Corp. President Osamu Masuko in 2014
The future of the 19-year alliance, one of the biggest automotive groups in the world, has been thrown into doubt after the arrest and subsequent ousting of Ghosn as chairman of both Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors.
Ghosn is the architect of the alliance and its chairman. He also remains CEO and chairman of Renault.
Senior executives at Mitsubishi Motors Corp said today its alliance with Nissan Motor and Renault SA can survive the management upheaval.
A seven-person Nissan board decided unanimously on Thursday to jettison the once-revered leader ‘based on the copious amount and compelling nature of the evidence of misconduct presented’, said a company spokesman.
Meanwhile, further claims continued to leak out in the Japanese media of Ghosn’s alleged misconduct.
Under Japanese law, suspects can face additional arrest warrants, which can result in heavier penalties. The current allegations could see Ghosn facing 10 years behind bars and/or a 10-million-yen fine.
Separately, Kyodo has reported that Nissan paid $100,000 annually since 2002 to Ghosn’s sister for a non-existent ‘advisory’ role.
And the Mainichi Shimbun reported on Monday that Ghosn used Nissan’s corporate money to pay a donation to his daughter’s university and also charged family trips to the company.
Both Ghosn and Kelly have reportedly denied the allegations.
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Chairman Osamu Masuko reveals the decision to dismissed Carlos Ghosn as chairman on Monday
The firm’s CEO Osamu Masuko told reporters it was ‘heartbreaking’ to propose ousting Ghosn but in the end it was a unanimous decision.
The 64-year-old Brazil-born Ghosn rode to Mitsubishi Motors’ rescue in 2016 when the firm was battered by a fuel efficiency cheating scandal, tying it to his Nissan-Renault alliance and turning its fortunes around.
Together, the three-way alliance is the world’s top-selling car group, with some 10.6 million vehicles rolling off the production line. It employs around 450,000 people worldwide.
But the future of the tie-up is now uncertain as the talismanic Ghosn was seen as the glue binding together a fractious Franco-Japanese alliance with headquarters 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) apart.
‘We (have) had two years of the alliance and there were positive parts… and parts that needed to be revised a little from Mitsubishi Motors’ point of view,’ said Masuko.
A seven-person Nissan board, the parent company of Mitsubishi, decided unanimously on Thursday to jettison the once-revered leader
Nissan’s current CEO Hiroto Saikawa told staff on Monday he was ‘shocked’ at his former mentor’s alleged misconduct.
At a 45-minute meeting attended by hundreds of staff at the firm’s Yokohama HQ and broadcast internally to other sites, Saikawa stressed that the scandal should not affect day-to-day operations.
Saikawa, who rose through the Nissan ranks under Ghosn’s wing, has already spoken of his ‘great resentment and dismay’ at the allegations.
According to Japanese media, Nissan formed a ‘secret’ cell within the firm to look into the alleged financial misdeeds.
Executives accelerated the probe amid concerns Ghosn was working on a fully fledged merger between Nissan and Renault, Kyodo News said without naming its sources.
The 64-year-old Brazil-born Ghosn rode to Mitsubishi Motors’ rescue in 2016 when the firm was battered by a fuel efficiency cheating scandal
Renault is the dominant partner in the alliance, holding 43 percent of the shares in Nissan, but the Japanese firm outsells its French counterpart – sparking concern in Tokyo about the balance of power.
Renault, which is 15-percent owned by the French state, has decided to stick by Ghosn for now, appointing Thierry Bollore as interim boss while the current CEO and chairman is ‘incapacitated’.
France’s economy minister Bruno Le Maire has urged the Japanese firm to share ‘quickly’ whatever evidence it has gathered and stressed Ghosn will stay at the helm of Renault ‘until there are tangible charges.’
However, Le Maire has said he did not believe in a ‘conspiracy theory’ amid talk of a so-called ‘palace coup’ within Nissan to prevent Ghosn merging the firm with Renault.
The difficulty now will be to find a replacement to lead the three-way alliance, whose statutes require Renault to appoint the CEO and Nissan to choose the deputy.
A source close to the case in Paris told AFP: ‘The reality is that they are already looking for a replacement. Not to do so would be irresponsible. It needs to be someone palatable to the Japanese and the French.’
Investors appeared to be recovering from the initial shock of the arrest, which sent shares in all three firms tumbling.
At the Tokyo close, Nissan was up nearly two percent and Mitsubishi Motors enjoyed an even sharper bump – up more than three percent just ahead of the board meeting.