Nissan board to meet to discuss arrested Carlos Ghosn’s successor as chairman

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan, Renault
Nissan's board is to pick a chairman to replace Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested last month on charges of violating financial regulations.

Monday’s meeting comes amid an unfolding scandal that threatens the Japanese automaker’s two-decade alliance with Renault SA of France and its global brand, as well as highlighting shoddy governance at the manufacturer of the Leaf electric car.

Mr Ghosn and another board member Greg Kelly were formally charged last week with falsifying financial reports in underreporting Mr Ghosn’s income by about five billion yen (€39 million) between 2011 and 2015.

They were arrested on November 19 by Tokyo prosecutors and remain in detention.

A source close to Mr Ghosn’s family said he is innocent as the alleged income was never decided upon or paid.

Aubrey Harwell, the US lawyer for Mr Kelly, an American, says he is innocent, and that Nissan insiders and outside experts had advised him the financial reporting was proper.

The chairman must be selected from among the board members, but whether a decision will come Monday remains unclear.

Nissan, Hiroto Saikawa, Business
Nissan Motor Co. President and Chief Executive Officer Hiroto Saikawa

Three outside board members, driver Keiko Ihara, Masakazu Toyoda, an academic, and Jean-Baptiste Duzan, formerly of Renault, are making that decision.

One candidate for chairman is Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa, who was hand-picked by Mr Ghosn to succeed him as chief executive.

He has denounced Mr Ghosn and Mr Kelly as the “masterminds” in a scheme to falsify income reports and abuse company money and assets.

Renault has kept Mr Ghosn as chief executive and chairman, saying its investigation has not found wrongdoing in the awarding of his compensation.