Sunday, 17 February, 2019

Japan's Nikkei: Ghosn says arrest due to plot within Nissan

Carlos Ghosn says 'plot and treason' behind arrest Ghosn: charges a 'plot' by Nissan execs to halt Renault merger
Laurie Berry | 31 January, 2019, 17:44

Detained auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn believes his arrest and the charges against him are the result of a "plot and treason" at his former employer Nissan, he told the Nikkei newspaper on Jan 30, 2019.

Mr Ghosn made the remarks in an interview with Japan's Nikkei newspaper, his first interview since being detained by Japanese authorities on November 19 past year.

He claimed they wanted to stop his plans for further integration with Renault, of which Mr Ghosn was also chairman and chief executive until his resignation last week.

He told the Nikkei that there was a plan to "integrate" the three companies but insisted it was meant to ensure there would be "autonomy under one holding company".

Ghosn, who spearheaded Nissan's turnaround two decades ago, had pushed for a deeper tie-up between Nissan and Renault, including possibly a full merger, despite strong reservations at the Japanese corporation.

But Ghosn rejected the characterisation of his tenure as a "dictatorship".

Local publication the Nikkei Asian Review said it was able to talk to him in person for around 20 minutes.

Prosecutors have charged Ghosn with falsifying financial reports in under-reporting his compensation.

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He remains in detention following his arrest and indictment on charges related to breach of trust and understating his salary. The payment was made from Ghosn's "CEO reserve", a pot of money that he was free to decide how to spend. It was indicted in Japan for misreporting Ghosn's pay, and it also faces an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

'I won't flee, I will defend [myself],' he added.

"All the evidence is with Nissan and Nissan forbids all employees to talk to me", he added. He denied the accusations and claimed "the executive in charge of the region signed [the approval]".

Volkswagen Group has held on to its position as the world's top-selling automaker for the fifth year in a row, although the German group was edged out again by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance in the light-duty vehicles segment. Toyota Motor Corp. says it sold 10.59 million vehicles globally previous year, fewer than the 10.83 million delivered by German rival Volkswagen AG.

The three companies which form the alliance are expected to revisit how it is operated in the absence of Ghosn's leadership.

He said a Nissan probe had uncovered "substantial and convincing evidence of misconduct" and that the firm's focus is "firmly on addressing the weaknesses in governance" that allowed this misconduct to happen.

'Our investigation is ongoing, and its scope continues to broaden.

A Nissan spokesman hit back immediately, saying that current CEO Hiroto Saikawa has "already categorically refuted the notion of a "coup d'etat".

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