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Nissan's Ghosn crisis

Nissan to abolish senior adviser posts in bid to oust Saikawa

Scandal-ridden automaker to file report on corporate governance improvements

Nissan intends to break with a corporate Japan tradition of keeping former senior executives around as advisers. (Photo by Kei Higuchi)

TOKYO -- Nissan Motor will abolish senior adviser posts in a bid to turn the page on a corporate governance structure headed by former Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa, Nikkei has learned.

Saikawa resigned as CEO after revelations of financial wrongdoing but not as a director. He remains with the company.

Nissan, which currently has multiple senior advisers, now intends to remove the influence of former management and to make its decision-making process more transparent.

Saikawa's scandal is separate from the alleged misconduct of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn.

The Japanese automaker is to shortly file a report with the Tokyo Stock Exchange explaining the background of Ghosn's alleged financial wrongdoing as well as measures it is taking to prevent a recurrence and how much progress it has made in this regard, according to sources.

The report will include Nissan's intention to do away with senior advisers.

Many big Japanese corporations keep senior executives around as senior advisers.

Saikawa resigned as CEO in September, acknowledging that he improperly received 47 million yen ($430,000) in extra compensation after the terms of a performance-based bonus were adjusted.

But he was intending to remain with the company even after he resigns as a director at an extraordinary shareholders meeting scheduled for Feb. 18, according to sources. The abolition of senior adviser posts is intended to hasten his departure.

Following Ghosn's arrest in November 2018, Nissan began moving to improve its corporate governance. In December 2019 it formed a new management team under CEO Makoto Uchida.

The automaker in March 2019 published an independent special committee report that recommends it improve its governance process by separating oversight and executive functions. Nissan later adopted committees for nomination, auditing and compensation, and introduced rules that outside directors should hold a majority of board seats.

The independent panel also pointed out a corporate culture under Ghosn in which board members were reluctant to speak up at meetings.

In September, an internal report was revealed that concludes the amount of financial misconduct by Ghosn and others totaled 35 billion yen ($318 million) in scale.

Neither report mentioned anything about scrapping senior adviser posts.

Ghosn was out on bail awaiting trial but spirited himself to Lebanon at the end of December.

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