Carlos Ghosn improperly received $9mn in compensation from a joint venture (JV) between Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors, the Japanese automakers said yesterday, raising the possibility of their ousted chairman facing a fresh charge of embezzlement.
In the latest twist to the saga of the once-feted official’s fall from grace, the automakers have found that Ghosn was paid by their Netherlands-based JV without the knowledge of the unit’s two other directors – Nissan Motor CEO Hiroto Saikawa and Mitsubishi Motor CEO Osamu Masuko.
Ghosn, arrested and detained in Tokyo for about two months, has already been indicted on charges of under-reporting his income for eight years at Nissan through March 2018, and temporarily transferring personal investment losses to the automaker during the global financial crisis.
“That such misconduct also occurred at our affiliate is beyond shocking... it’s sad,” Masuko told reporters, referring to the payments made to Ghosn from Nissan-Mitsubishi BV, registered in the Netherlands in 2017.
Both Mitsubishi and Nissan said they would consider ways to recover the amount from Ghosn, while Mitsubishi lawyer Kei Umebayashi said a criminal charge was also possible.
“The most likely charge for this would be embezzlement,” he told reporters at a briefing.
According to Mitsubishi’s legal team, over April-November 2018, Ghosn received around €5.8mn ($6.61mn) in annual pay for his role as managing director, a €1.4mn signing fee and an undisclosed incentive from the JV. Reuters reported earlier this week about the alleged improper compensation to Ghosn by the JV and that Nissan was considering filing for damages, citing a source.
The unit had been intended to fund expenses for the partnership including consultant fees, joint promotional activities, workspace use and corporate jets, Masuko said.
“From the time that the unit was established to when I was told about the payments, I had absolutely no idea that the unit was being used for such payments,” Masuko added.
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