Carlos Ghosn faces new round of allegations

Jailed auto executive Carlos Ghosn is facing a new round of allegations of financial misconduct.

Nissan (NSANY) and Mitsubishi Motors (MMTOF) said Friday that Ghosn, their former chairman, improperly received €7.8 million ($8.9 million) in compensation and other payments from a joint venture between the two carmakers.

The companies said a joint investigation found that Ghosn was paid the money from the joint venture, Nissan-Mitsubishi B.V., without the approval of other board members.

Ghosn, who remains chairman and CEO of French automaker Renault (RNSDF), has suffered a stunning downfall after Nissan first accused him of financial wrongdoing two months ago. The saga has strained the global alliance of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi that he oversaw.

Ghosn was arrested in Tokyo on November 19 and has been in jail since. Japanese prosecutors have charged him with abusing his position at Nissan by transferring personal investment losses to the company, and understating his income by about $80 million between 2010 and 2018.

The Brazilian-born business leader has denied those charges, saying he is innocent and has been wrongly accused on unsubstantiated accusations.

The allegations Friday by Nissan and Mitsubishi are in addition to those on which he has been indicted. Ghosn’s legal team declined to comment.

Expanding the alliance

The alliance between Renault and Nissan was founded in 1999 at a time when the Japanese company was in danger of collapse.

Ghosn, who is credited with quickly turning Nissan’s business around, brought Mitsubishi into the fold as it struggled with a crisis in 2016.

The two Japanese automakers set up a Netherlands-based joint venture in 2017 with three board members: Ghosn, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa and Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko.

The unauthorized payments were made to Ghosn between April and November 2018, the companies said, but Saikawa and Masuko did not receive any compensation or other payments from the venture.

Nissan and Mitsubishi said they are considering ways to recover the money from Ghosn.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance now produces more than 10 million cars a year and employs 450,000 people.

Renault could move within days to replace Ghosn after he lost the backing of the company’s biggest shareholder, the French state, earlier this week.