Nissan board votes unanimously to remove Carlos Ghosn

Public broadcaster NHK and business daily Nikkei both said Nissan’s board had decided to remove the 64-year-old Ghosn, who led the Japanese carmaker for nearly two decades.

A Nissan Motor Co spokesman declined to comment. Ghosn and Greg Kelly remain in custody in Tokyo. Neither have issued comment. Prosecutors say they have obtained a 10-day extension of custody for Ghosn.

Ghosn, also in charge of Nissan allies Renault and Mitsubishi, was the architect behind the three-party Franco-Japanese car conglomerate, which employs 450,000 people globally. He was also seen as a key figure holding the alliance together. Nissan said that its alliance with Renault “remained unchanged” amid plans to remove Ghosn.

Last year, the alliance combined sold 10.6 million cars, as it competes in a three-way tussle with Toyota and the Volkswagen Group to be the world’s most prolific car seller.

Crisis talks in Paris

Japan’s industry minister and France’s finance minister were due to meet in Paris on Thursday to seek ways to stabilize the alliance.

French President Emmanuel Macron said France would be “extremely vigilant” about Renault and the alliance.

The Brazil-born tycoon, who was educated in Lebanon and then France, was intercepted on Monday as he flew into Tokyo by prosecutors who accused him and Kelly of understating the chairman’s income by around $44 million between June 2011 and June 2015.

The claim allegations follow a months-long internal Nissan probe prompted by a tip-off.

Japan Zeitung mit Carlos Ghosn (picture-alliance/ZUMA Wire/R. R. Marin)

Tokyo front pages on Monday, 20 November 2018

Deputy chief prosecutor Shin Kukimoto said Ghosn was accused of “one of the most serious types of crime” under Japan’s Financial Instruments Act, with a 10-year prison sentence.

Kukimoto said Ghosn had been allowed to meet with officials from the French Embassy and with a lawyer.

Full-blown merger?

According to the Financial Times newspaper, Ghosn’s fall from grace came as he was working on a full-blown merger of Nissan and Renault. Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault, and Renault 43 percent of Nissan.

Earlier this week, Renault appointed Thierry Bollore, the chief operating officer, as interim CEO, but stopped short of removing Ghosn from his roles as CEO and chairman.

“This leadership guarantees the correct functioning of the Renault company,” said French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire on Wednesday. France has a 15 percent stake in Renault.

ipj/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)