The architect of Renault’s return to F1, chairman of Renault & Nissan Carlos Ghosn, has been arrested in Japan and is facing accusations of financial misconduct, Nissan have confirmed.
According to reports from Japan, an internal Nissan investigation revealed that “over many years both Ghosn and [another senior executive Greg] 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.”
Nissan added: “Numerous other significant acts of misconduct have been uncovered, such as personal use of company assets, and Kelly’s deep involvement has also been confirmed.”
One of the leading figures in the automotive industry, Ghosn rose to fame for turning around the financial fortunes of Nissan and Renault, before overseeing the creation of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance, the second-biggest car manufacturer behind the Volkswagen Group.
However, Japanese media have reported that he has under-reported earnings of around 5bn yen (£34m) over a five-year period from 2011.
“Too much authority was given to one person in terms of governance,” he told reporters at Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama,” said Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa.
“I have to say that this is a dark side of the Ghosn era which lasted for a long time.”
“Beyond being sorry I feel great disappointment, frustration, despair, indignation and resentment.”
With shares in Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi all falling, Nissan have reacted by announcing that they will fire Ghosn from his position this week. Renault and Mitsubishi are likely to do the same, with the former now under pressure from the French state, who own 15% of Renault.
This has prompted calls from French President Emmanuel Macron to observe the situation closely: “The French government will remain extremely vigilant regarding the stability of the alliance, the (Renault) group and… its employees, who have the full support of the state.”
Whilst the removal of Ghosn from his position at Renault will have no immediate outcome on Renault Sport’s motor racing activities, there will inevitably be some concern at the team’s Enstone base about the loss of a key supporter of their programme.
By: Luke Murphy
All images: Motorsport Images