Nissan to boost external board seats, set up compensation committee

Carlos Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn chairs the alliance between Renault and Nissan Credit Ng Han Guan AP

Renault said on Thursday an audit launched in the wake of Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn's arrest in Japan had so far found no irregularities with his pay at the French auto maker.

As the preliminary findings presented by the Ethics and Compliance Committee at Renault's board meeting did not furnish any proof of financial misconduct against Ghosn, the board of directors made a decision to let Ghosn continue as the group's chairman.

The 64-year-old Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian executive was formally charged Monday, December 10, of under-declaring his income by some five billion yen ($44 million) between 2010 and 2015.

Renault kept Ghosn on as CEO after his arrest in Tokyo, but launched an enquiry into his pay package and named a deputy CEO to ensure day-to-day management.

The daughter of ousted Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn early on Friday retrieved documents and cash from a corporate apartment in Rio de Janeiro, capping a legal battle over the items, which the carmaker maintains may contain evidence of wrongdoing. Aubrey Harwell, the US lawyer for Kelly, has said his client is innocent, and that Nissan insiders and outside experts had advised him the financial reporting was proper. Senior Toyota executive Didier Leroy will be considered, one said.

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Directors had also clashed with Renault managers over their right to hire independent board counsel with access to Nissan's findings, two other people said.

Under French government pressure, Ghosn had been exploring a deeper tie-up or even a full merger between the alliance partners, despite strong reservations at Nissan. Nissan in turn controls Mitsubishi via a 34 percent holding.

"Carlos Ghosn is in some respects the personification of everything the yellow vests despise", said Chris Reynolds, a professor of French studies at Nottingham Trent University in England. Lawyers are in talks to define the scope, the person said.

The board said this referred to compensation for the years 2015 to 2018, adding that it had asked its lawyers to continue their review in liaison with Nissan's lawyers.

Since his arrest in November 19th on the accusation of alleged financial misconduct including understating personal income and personal use of company money, he has been detailed in Tokyo with his former Nissan representative director, Greg Kelly.

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