Nissan to boost external board seats, set up compensation committee

Carlos Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn

Renault's board has voted to keep Carlos Ghosn as its CEO and chairman after an internal investigation found no wrongdoing or illegal activity with regards to his pay.

Meanwhile, it has been conducting its own review of Ghosn's pay package at the French carmaker between 2015 and 2018.

There is speculation that Nissan itself may be indicted in Japan as part of the case against Ghosn. After a months-long investigation by the company, Ghosn was charged Monday for understating his income by $43 million.

Ghosn joined Renault in 1996 and was named COO of Nissan in 1999, after the French firm bought a major stake in its Japanese rival.

Ghosn, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, was sent in by Nissan's alliance partner Renault SA of France in 1999, when Nissan Motor Co. was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.

The maximum penalty for violating Japan's financial laws is 10 years in prison, a 10 million yen ($89,000) fine, or both.

Citing unnamed sources, Japanese newspaper Yomuri reported that Ghosn had instructed Nissan since 2002 to pay around $100,000 a year to his sister, as a compensation for an advisory role.

Prosecutors arrested Ghosn and Kelly on November 19 and indicted both on Monday for allegedly not reporting 4.9 billion yen ($43.3 million) of compensation over the 2010-14 fiscal years.

At this stage, the board "does not have information concerning Carlos Ghosn's defence", it added.

During the five-hour session, several directors led by Cherie Blair, wife of the British former prime minister Tony Blair, began to express impatience with that position, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Sources told Reuters on Thursday that the French government was seeking candidates to replace Ghosn, as board members began to voice doubts about keeping him in office.

Some industry analysts have raised the possibility that the ousting of Ghosn at Nissan may have a lot to do with the Japanese company's desire to change the terms of its partnership with Renault. When Ghosn and Kelly might be released from the Tokyo Detention Center remains unclear.

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