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Renault ‘weakened’ by Ghosn misconduct, French minister claims

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan chairman

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said that Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn is “no longer capable of leading” fellow Alliance manufacturer Renault in light of his arrest amid allegations of financial misconduct.

Japanese prosecutors arrested the Brazilian-born executive yesterday (November 19) after is emerged that Nissan had been investigating him for under-reporting his pay package and "Numerous other significant acts of misconduct", including "personal use of company assets”, for several months.

The inolvement of Ghosn, who is also chairman and chief executive of Renault and chairman of Mitsubishi Motors, in the financial reporting scandal prompted shares in Renault to drop almost 13% in the immediate aftermath of his arrest yesterday, according to the BBC.

And while Nissan’s chief executive Hiroto Saikawa will now propose to the Nissan Board of Directors to promptly remove Ghosn from his positions, French politician Le Maire is also adding pressure on the long-time manufacturer figurehead.

A report in The Guardian newspaper reported that Le Maire had told France Info radio: “Carlos Ghosn is no longer in a position where he is capable of leading Renault.

“Renault has been weakened, which makes it all the more necessary to act quickly.”

The Renault board will convene and emergency meeting today (November 20) and Le Maire has urged the group, in which the French government has a 15% stake, to set up an interim management structure, the Guardian said.

Nissan’s representative director Greg Kelly has also been subject of the investigation carried out by the Japanese manufacturer which, it said, had resulted from “a whistleblower report”.

In an official statement, Nissan said: “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.

“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.

“Nissan has been providing information to the Japanese Public Prosecutors Office and has been fully cooperating with their investigation. We will continue to do so.”

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