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Nissan's Ghosn crisis

Mitsubishi and Nissan aim to recoup $9m Ghosn awarded himself

New details show ex-chairman received unauthorized pay from joint venture

Carlos Ghosn, left, allegedly awarded himself pay from a joint venture between Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors without the consent of board members like Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko, right.
Carlos Ghosn, left, allegedly awarded himself pay from a joint venture between Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors without the consent of board members like Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko, right.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors are considering jointly seeking damages from Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of both automakers, following revelations that he improperly received 7.82 million euros ($8.9 million) in payments from a Netherlands-based joint venture between the companies.

Ghosn collected the compensation from April through November without permission from the others on Nissan-Mitsubishi B.V.'s board, as is required by company policy, according to an internal investigation by the Japanese automakers released Friday. It was also discovered that an employment agreement to award him the pay was finalized, under Ghosn's orders, by a Nissan executive not authorized to do so.

The compensation "was not discussed" by the board, Mitsubishi Chairman and CEO Osamu Masuko, who sits on the joint venture's board along with Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa, told reporters.

NMBV was established to generate synergies between the two Japanese automakers, which are part of a three-way alliance with French automaker Renault. The joint venture analyzes the success of such efforts and manages compensation related to the carmakers' collaboration.

"We are considering cooperation with Nissan to seek liability," Masuko said, suggesting that the automakers would seek damages. "We will consider the best method."

Although NMBV does not disclose compensation as an unconsolidated subsidiary of both automakers, Masuko and Saikawa did not receive any compensation from the joint venture, according to the companies.

"We must take the necessary steps to remove Ghosn as a director" of NMBV, said Masuko.

Ghosn was first arrested on Nov. 19 for allegedly understating his salary at Nissan. Mitsubishi dismissed him as chairman and representative director at a board meeting on Nov. 26 and launched an internal probe.

Nissan also quickly removed Ghosn as chairman and representative director. Ghosn's dismissal as CEO of Renault is expected soon.

The French automaker and Nissan are expected to launch a joint investigation. The partners are quickly trying to bring the situation under control since a protracted problem could hamper collaboration and sow distrust among them.

"This issue is separate from the alliance," Masuko said about the automakers' partnership, saying that they plan to continue prioritizing cooperation.

"It is difficult for a single company to do everything in today's auto industry," he said. "Using our combined strengths is crucial."

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