Renault names new CEO and chairman after Ghosn resigns

by James Attwood, Autocar UK 25 Jan 2019

Renault has confirmed the appointment of a new chairman and a separate new CEO after Carlos Ghosn resigned while facing financial misconduct charges.

Former Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard has been named director and chairman, while Ghosn's former deputy, Thierry Bollore, takes over as CEO in a move to new structure less reliant on one individual.

The French government earlier revealed that Ghosn decided to resign after reports he would be ousted from the French car maker in an emergency board meeting today. The decision is believed to be an attempt to heal the rift between allies Nissan and Renault that has developed since the scandal broke. 

A statement issued by Renault confirmed Senard "will be the main contact person for the Japanese partner and the other Alliance partners for any discussion on the Alliance's organisation and evolution". It continued: "He will propose to the Board of Directors any new Alliance agreement that he considers useful for Renault's future."

The architect and former boss of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is still detained in Japan, facing charges of serious financial misconduct. His resignation comes two months after his arrest and subsequent dismissal from Nissan. 

Ghosn's multi-million-pound misconduct allegations: the latest
Nissan and Mitsubishi claimed last week in a joint statement that Ghosn received £6.9 million in 'improper' payments without consulting the board. 

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 directly 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 there was the possibility that he could conceal 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."

He said: “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 didn't 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 purposes".


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