Nissan panel says facts point to legal violations by ousted chief Ghosn

YOKOHAMA: An external committee reviewing governance at Nissan Motor Co said there were enough facts to suspect violations of laws and the private use of company funds by ousted chairman Carlos Ghosn.
Following a three-month audit of Nissan’s governance after a scandal that shook the global auto industry, the committee put the blame squarely on what it called Ghosn’s concentration of power. It also acknowledged Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa’s role in Ghosn’s salary arrangement at the heart of the scandal.
Twenty years to the day since French automaker Renault SA agreed to rescue Nissan, the committee described a corporate culture at Nissan “in which no one can make any objections to Mr Ghosn”, who was “in a way deified within Nissan as a saviour who had redeemed Nissan from collapse”.
A representative for Ghosn replied in a statement that the allegations made against the former Nissan chairman “will be revealed for what they are: part of an unsubstantiated smear campaign against Carlos Ghosn to prevent the integration of the Alliance and conceal Nissan’s deteriorating performance.”
The group issued 38 recommendations to bolster Nissan’s governance, including that top executive positions at the Japanese car maker should not be held by people serving in executive positions at Renault or junior partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Responding to the committee’s comments, Saikawa told reporters on Thursday that Nissan would seriously consider the committee’s recommendations, which he characterised as “tough”.
Saikawa, who was speaking outside his home, did not specifically address his responsibility in the scandal but has previously said that top management, including himself, were responsible for weak governance which led to the misconduct.
The recommendations from the external, seven-member committee came weeks after Nissan and Renault said they would retool their alliance to break up the all-powerful chairmanship previously held by Ghosn. — Reuters