Nissan shareholders meet to sack Ghosn
Nissan shareholders are expected to eject Carlos Ghosn from its board on Monday, as the detained former chairman fights multiple charges of financial misconduct that have landed him in custody.
The extraordinary shareholders’ meeting at a Tokyo hotel is the first such gathering since the stunning arrest of the 65-year-old auto sector titan on November 19.
Shareholders will vote on the removal of Ghosn, once hailed as the Japanese car giant’s saviour, and his replacement by Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard.
They will also likely jettison as a board member Greg Kelly, a US executive who served as Ghosn’s right-hand man and who also faces charges in Japan.
Nissan sacked Ghosn as chairman almost immediately after his initial arrest but an extraordinary meeting of shareholders is required to remove him from the board.
Ghosn faces three separate charges. The first two relate to the alleged deferring of around $80 million in income and concealing this in official documents to shareholders.
The third, more complex, charge is that he attempted to transfer personal losses to Nissan and paid a Saudi contact who provided collateral from company funds.
Last week saw prosecutors rearrest Ghosn over an additional allegation that he had transferred Nissan money to a dealership in Oman but siphoned off millions for his own personal expenses — including the purchase of a luxury yacht.
Prosecutors believe Ghosn moved Nissan funds totalling $15 million between late 2015 and the middle of 2018 and used $5 million of that for his own ends.
On Friday, the Tokyo District Court ruled that prosecutors could have until at least April 14 to interrogate Ghosn, who denies any wrongdoing.
This period can be extended for a further 10 days if the court allows, meaning Ghosn is unlikely to be released any time soon.
– ‘It’s a plot’ –
His rearrest on Thursday, the latest twist in a case that has captivated Japan and the business world, came less than a month after he had dramatically won bail, paying around $9 million to secure his release.
He had kept tight-lipped during his bail period and was subject to restrictions on his contacts with others connected with the case, and his online communications. He was also banned from leaving the country.
Just before his rearrest, Ghosn had appeared on Twitter to announce a news conference for April 11 — which will now not happen barring a further surprise.
However, he gave a combative interview to France’s TF1 television channel where he again denounced his downfall as a Nissan “plot” and voiced fears he might not receive a fair trial.
“It’s obvious it’s a plot,” said Ghosn, adding: “Everything needs to be put on the table. Of course, I have names.”
“Some of them you have seen in the press, but there are others that haven’t been in the press,” he said.
He said his downfall was orchestrated by people scared of closer integration between Nissan and its French partner Renault.
The other reason for the “plot” was the “deterioration in Nissan’s performance for two years,” he charged.
“I am very worried about the performance and future of Nissan,” said Ghosn, widely credited with saving the Japanese firm from the brink of bankruptcy.