Nissan Motor Co.’s high-flying chairman Carlos Ghosn is to be dismissed after the company said an internal investigation found he under-reported his income and engaged in other “significant misconduct.”
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK and other media outlets said Ghosn had been arrested after being questioned by Japanese prosecutors for various improprieties including underreporting his income.
“The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office arrested Nissan chairman Ghosn on suspicion of violation of the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act,” NHK said.
In a statement, Nissan said it had been conducting a probe into Ghosn for several months after receiving a whistleblower report and had uncovered misconduct going back several years
“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,” the statement said.
“Also, in regards to Ghosn, 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.”
Ghosn is credited with helping engineer a remarkable turnaround at Nissan over the past two decades, resuscitating the Japanese automaker from near bankruptcy after he was sent in by Renault.
He served as Nissan’s chief executive from 2001 until April 2017, becoming chief executive of Renault in 2005, leading the two major automakers simultaneously. In 2016, Ghosn became Mitsubishi Motors’ chairman.
For the past two decades, he has maintained an unusually high profile in a nation where foreign chief executives of major Japanese companies are still relatively rare.
Ghosn has appeared on magazine covers dressed in kimono, vowing to renew the Nissan brand. He was widely praised in Japanese industry circles for delivering sorely needed cost cuts and introducing greater efficiency at a time when Nissan needed a fresh start.