Nissan chief approved $40m retirement payment for Carlos Ghosn

Document raises new questions about what car maker’s executives knew

Former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn sits inside the car as he leaves his lawyer’s office. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn sits inside the car as he leaves his lawyer’s office. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

 

Nissan’s chief executive approved a $40 million lump sum payment to Carlos Ghosn as part of a proposed retirement package that raises new questions about senior executives’ knowledge of their deposed chairman’s remuneration.

Hiroto Saikawa approved a 10-year employment contract for Mr Ghosn as “chairman emeritus”, according to the 2012 document seen by the Financial Times, which also permitted him continued use of company properties in Rio de Janeiro, Paris and Lebanon.

Under the agreement, Nissan was expected to make a lump-sum payment of $40 million for the advisory role after Mr Ghosn stepped down as chairman, and provide an annual salary of $4.4 million which would be increased to $6 million if the company met certain targets.

Mr Ghosn would also be entitled to use residential properties as well as offices in Japan and other locations.

Those same properties were a focus of Nissan’s internal investigation last year into Mr Ghosn, with the carmaker finding he had acted improperly in the way the properties were acquired and the amount of money spent on their renovation, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The Ghosn family has always believed that the residences were corporate housing and there was no misuse of funds, according to people familiar with their thinking.

The employment agreement was signed by Mr Saikawa and Greg Kelly, another Nissan board member who was charged with conspiring with Mr Ghosn to falsify Nissan’s financial statements. Mr Kelly has denied the charges. It is not clear if the document was the final version of the agreement.

Mr Ghosn was arrested on November 19th and later charged with falsifying his pay in financial documents by not including more than $80 million in deferred compensation that he was set to receive over an eight-year period. On his deferred compensation, the former chairman has said there was no undisclosed binding contract with Nissan for a fixed amount of pay. He has also denied all other charges. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019