Renault chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn steps down

by James Attwood, Autocar UK & Autocar Pro News Desk 24 Jan 2019


Carlos Ghosn has resigned from his position as the chairman and CEO of Renault, said French finance minister Bruno Le Maire to Bloomberg TV in an interview yesterday night.

The architect and former boss of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance is still being detained in Japan, facing charges of serious financial misconduct. Renault's emergency board meeting, where Ghosn is expected to be replaced, comes two months after his arrest and subsequent dismissal from Nissan

The board will meet tomorrow morning, where sources suggest they will consider appointing former Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard as chairman and Ghosn's debuty Thierry Bollore as CEO. It's been suggested that the decision is an attempt to heal the rift between Nissan and Renault that has developed since the scandal.

Nissan and Mitsubishi claimed last week that Ghosn received £6.9 million in 'improper' payments without consulting the board, in a joint statement issued by both brands. 

Ghosn has had several bail applications denied after being indicted on charges of serious financial misconduct, aggravated breach of trust and understating his income for three years. New allegations come direct from two of his former employers, claiming he failed to consult the board when receiving payments from Nissan-Mitsubishi BV (NMBV), a Netherlands-based joint venture set up to explore greater collaboration within the group. 

Prosecutors laid further charges against Ghosn last week, days after he issued a public statement claiming that he has been "wrongly accused" of serious financial misconduct.

The 64-year-old was arrested by prosecutors in Japan in November last year. His hearing at a court in Tokyo last week was his first public appearance since then.

In a prepared statement to the court issued by his legal team, Ghosn said: “I am innocent of the accusations made against me. I have always acted with integrity and have never been accused of any wrongdoing in my several-decade professional career. 

“I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations.”

The court hearing was requested by Ghosn’s lawyers to explain the reasons for his prolonged detention. The judge, Yuichi Tada, said it was because he was considered a flight risk, and the possibility of concealing evidence.

According to reports, Ghosn was led into the court in handcuffs and with a rope around his waist, and appeared notably thinner than previously.

In his statement, Ghosn also listed his achievements during his time as head of Nissan, and added: “I have a genuine love and appreciation for Nissan."

“I believe strongly that in all of my efforts on behalf of the company, I have acted honourably, legally and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company – with the sole purpose of supporting and strengthening Nissan, and helping to restore its place as one of Japan’s finest and most respected companies.”

Ghosn denies claims in statement
Responding to the claims of under-reporting his salary, Ghosn said: “I never received any compensation from Nissan that was not disclosed, nor did I ever enter into any binding contract with Nissan to be paid a fixed amount that was not disclosed.”

Ghosn’s statement included rebuttals of several of the specific charges made against him, which include claims he moved personal investment losses totalling 1.85bn yen (£13.3m) to Nissan.

He said he did ask the company to take on the collateral temporarily due to his foreign exchange contracts, but that the company did not lose money through this move.

Ghosn has also been accused of using Nissan funds to make payments to Saudi businessman Khaled Juffali, in return for a letter of credit to help with investment losses.

In response, Ghosn said that Juffali was “appropriately contributed” for helping Nissan secure funding, solve an issue with a distributor in the Gulf region and negotiate the development of a plant in Saudi Arabia.

Representatives of the Khaled Juffali Company also issued a statement, saying that the payments it received from Nissan were "for legitimate business pusposes".