TOKYO - Nissan Motor cut the responsibilities of Senior Vice President Hari Nada, a former aide to Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman who was ousted over allegations of financial wrongdoing.
Nada was in charge of legal affairs but has now been stripped of that responsibility. He will keep his title of senior vice president and serve as senior adviser, working principally on legal action that could include the trial of Nissan and Ghosn.
Nissan unveiled new management on Tuesday, as it tries to turn the page on the financial scandal that has gripped the company under Ghosn and former CEO Hiroto Saikawa.
Nissan had declined to comment on Nada's role on Tuesday and only announced the changes on Wednesday. The automaker claimed in a statement that the change was made to "avoid undue suspicion" and to enable him to "focus on important tasks for the company, such as the forthcoming legal action."
Nada was part of a group of Nissan executives who cooperated with prosecutors before Ghosn's arrest last November in exchange for immunity.
Nada has been criticized for overseeing the legal department while he assisted Ghosn in some of the actions that have now come under scrutiny. Nada is also said to have received outsized compensation, like Saikawa who was forced to step down in September for receiving an improperly inflated bonus.
Instead of sacking Nada, Nissan is keeping the senior executive on its side as he has the most knowledge of Ghosn's involvement in the allegations that would be helpful in the trial, experts said.
"He is the critical figure to make Ghosn guilty at the upcoming trial, which is an absolute must for the company," said Yasuyuki Takai, a former prosecutor and an attorney in Tokyo.
"Nissan wants to keep Nada under control and avoid any risk of him saying something untrue," Takai added.
The trial is expected to begin in Tokyo in April. Prosecutors said Ghosn's salary was underreported by around 9.1 billion yen ($85 million) over eight years through March 2018. Ghosn denies any wrongdoing.
Nissan named Makoto Uchida as new CEO on Tuesday. He is expected to assume the role no later than Jan. 1.