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Carlos Ghosn, Greg Kelly and Nissan indicted over pay scandal

Published: 11 December 2018

► Ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn indicted
► He and Greg Kelly remain under arrest
► Financial affairs and pay investigation

Prosecutors in Tokyo have indicted Carlos Ghosn and Greg Kelly, the two men at the centre of the pay scandal engulfing Nissan - and the car maker has also been indicted for misrepresenting its former chairman's pay.

Both senior Nissan executives have been re-arrested, extending the time they can be kept in jail. They have been held at a detention centre since 19 November 2018, when the scandal first broke. 

'Making false disclosures in annual securities reports greatly harms the integrity of Nissan’s public disclosures in the securities markets, and the company expresses its deepest regret,' the company said. 'Nissan will continue its efforts to strengthen its governance and compliance, including making accurate disclosures of corporate information.'

2018: not a good year to be a car boss

Why Carlos Ghosn was arrested over his pay

One of the biggest car industry bosses in the world - Carlos Ghosn, chairman of Renault Nissan - has been ousted from his role as chairman of Nissan.

Carlos Ghosn: indicted over the Nissan pay scandal (Getty Images)

The board voted unanimously to remove Ghosn and senior executive Greg Kelly 'to minimise the potential impact and confusion on the day-to-day cooperation among the Alliance partners.'  

Both men have been arrested in Tokyo amid claims they conspired to misrepresent the chairman's pay over many years.

Emergency press conference: the new Nissan CEO speaks

‘I feel despair, indignation and resentment,’ Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa (above) told an emergency news conference in Yokahama on 19 November, the day news broke. ‘As the details are disclosed I believe that people will feel the same way as I feel today.'

He confirmed Nissan's plan to remove Ghosn, 64, from office. His immediate plan was to ‘stabilise the situation, and normalise day-to-day operations,’ Saikawa added.

'Too much authority was given to one person in terms of governance... I have to say that this is a dark side of the Ghosn era which lasted for a long time.' The CEO said he was still pondering whether Ghosn was 'a charismatic figure or a tyrant.'

Hiroto Saikawa, Nissan president and CEO, spoke at a news conference in Yokohama, Japan

Unconfirmed local reports claim Ghosn under-reported an amount totalling 5 billion yen (£34 million) over a five-year period from 2011. Nissan has yet to reveal any amounts or details, but has admitted that 'numerous other significant acts of misconduct [including] personal use of company assets' were being investigated.

Ghosn is also accused of having company-paid houses in four countries, according to Japanese media. It is also alleged that the arrested men were planning retirement payment schemes.

Shares in Nissan fell by 4%, Mitsubishi was down by 7% and Renault stock hit a four-year low in Europe in the days after their arrest. Ghosn is also CEO and chairman of Renault and chairman of Mitsubishi Motors.

Nissan statement on Carlos Ghosn pay investigation

Nissan said it had been investigating Ghosn's compensation and pay packages for several months, as well as the actions of Greg Kelly, representative director at the company.

'Based on a whistleblower report, Nissan Motor Co Ltd has been conducting an internal investigation over the past several months regarding misconduct involving the company's chairman Carlos Ghosn and representative director Greg Kelly.

Carlos Ghosn: chairman of Nissan

'The investigation showed that over many years both Ghosn and Kelly have been reporting compensation amounts in the Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report that were less than the actual amount, in order to reduce the disclosed amount of Carlos Ghosn's compensation.'

Ghosn and Kelly were unavailable for comment.

The end of the road for Ghosn

Ghosn was credited with turning around Renault and Nissan and is the architect of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors strategic alliance, that he still chairs. He also backed the group's pioneering move into mainstream electric cars, but in recent years he has been shedding some of his responsibilities as talk turns to succession planning.

Needless to say, he remains innocent until proven guilty. But it seems that the next few days and weeks will be crucial in determining Ghosn's survival as one of the big beasts of the global car industry.

This is a breaking news story and we will update it as soon as we know more

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet