Nissan Motor Co: US$14 million payment to Ghosn’s Saudi acquaintance ‘unnecessary’

A photo shows the logo of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. at its global headquarters in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture on December 21, 2018. Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of France-based Renault, chairman and former CEO of Japan-based Nissan, and chairman of Mitsubishi Motors, was arrested by the special investigation squad of the Tokyo Public Prosecutors Office on Nov. 19 on suspicion of violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Law. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) – Nissan Motor Co. “did not need to pay” the about ¥1.6 billion ($14 million) to Ghosn’s acquaintance in Saudi Arabia that came from the automaker’s confidential funds, as former Chairman Carlos Ghosn allegedly instructed it to do, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Nissan Motor Co. “did not need to pay” the about ¥1.6 billion to Ghosn’s acquaintance in Saudi Arabia that came from the automaker’s confidential funds, as former Chairman Carlos Ghosn allegedly instructed it to do, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

An official in charge at a Nissan subsidiary in the United Arab Emirates said the payment was unnecessary, according to sources.

Ghosn, 64, who has been rearrested on suspicion of aggravated breach of trust involving the misappropriation of Nissan funds for personal use, allegedly made the payment to the acquaintance on the pretext of “sales promotion expenses” and other such purposes.

It has also been revealed that Ghosn signed payment application forms and approved the payments. The special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office believes these revelations back up the allegation that about ¥1.6 billion was paid under a fictitious pretext at Ghosn’s instruction.

Ghosn allegedly caused damage to Nissan when he was representative director and chief executive officer through two acts. In October 2008, he shifted appraisal losses worth about ¥1.85 billion arising from a private investment to the automaker.

And from June 2009 to March 2012 he had a total of $14.7 million (about ¥1.6 billion at the current exchange rate) sent from Nissan funds to the company of the acquaintance, who helped him secure a credit guarantee in connection with his investment.

According to sources, Ghosn is believed to have given instructions for the transfer of about ¥1.6 billion from confidential funds — called CEO reserves — managed by Nissan Middle East FZE, a Nissan consolidated subsidiary based in the UAE, to the acquaintance in Saudi Arabia. This money was sent nominally for “special sales promotion expenses” and “branding activity expenses” among other purposes.

The acquaintance’s company was not a distributing agent for Nissan, and the confidential funds had not been provided before the acquaintance helped Ghosn obtain the credit guarantee.

Regarding the ¥1.6 billion, an official in charge at Nissan Middle East has stated, “The acquaintance’s company was not involved in sales promotion and other activities, so there was no reason to provide it such a large sum of money.” The special investigation squad is apparently aware of this official’s statement.

Furthermore, some application forms necessary for internal procedures covering disbursement of the confidential funds appear to have been compiled by a non-Japanese senior Nissan official, who had been responsible for sales in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere at the time. Ghosn himself signed his name in the “approval column.” The letters “OK” were also written in the column.

The acquaintance is believed to have paid about ¥3 billion as “guarantee fees” to help secure a credit guarantee for Ghosn’s investment. The special investigation squad suspects the ¥1.6 billion was paid as a token of gratitude and to reimburse the guarantee fees.

The acquaintance is engaged in the businesses of car sales and electric power, among other ventures, in Saudi Arabia, and is also involved in investment activities. The wealthy acquaintance was appointed chairman of the joint venture Nissan established in the UAE in 2008 with the aim of improving the automaker’s sales strategy in the Middle East region.

Ghosn has denied the allegations to the special investigation squad. He said the ¥1.6 billion was paid in return for the acquaintance’s efforts in resolving a problem between Nissan and a car dealership and for lobbying activities in Saudi Arabia.

By News Desk