Renault finds no evidence against Carlos Ghosn at French carmaker

Company boss remains in custody in Japan amid allegations of financial misconduct

Tokyo prosecutors are expected to indict Carlos Ghosn, who has maintained his innocence, on charges of aggravated breach of trust. Photograph: Reuters

Tokyo prosecutors are expected to indict Carlos Ghosn, who has maintained his innocence, on charges of aggravated breach of trust. Photograph: Reuters

 

Renault has said its own internal investigation into its boss Carlos Ghosn has so far found no evidence of wrongdoing at the French carmaker following a board meeting in Paris on Thursday evening.

“The review process has examined the compensation of the current Groupe Renault executive committee members for the financial years 2017 and 2018 and has concluded that it is both in compliance with applicable laws and free from any fraud,” said Renault in a statement.

“In accordance with its initial mandate, the review process will continue with respect to previous financial years,” added the carmaker.

Mr Ghosn remains in custody in Japan on allegations of financial misconduct at alliance-partner Nissan after he was arrested in November. Tokyo prosecutors are expected to indict Mr Ghosn, who has maintained his innocence, on charges of aggravated breach of trust on Friday.

Nissan removed Mr Ghosn from his position as chairman soon after his arrest, while in December Renault opted to keep him in position after saying it had not gathered sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to remove him as chief executive or chairman.

The French government, however, has been ramping up its preparations to replace Mr Ghosn at Renault if he is unable to return and head the company. The state, which owns 15 per cent of Renault, is looking at possible candidates to replace Mr Ghosn, including Jean-Dominique Senard, chief executive of tyremaker Michelin. Mr Senard could take over as chair if needed, with Thierry Bolloré, who is running the business on a day-to-day basis in Mr Ghosn’s absence, becoming chief executive.

Health concerns

Mr Ghosn’s wife also put out a statement on Thursday saying that she was concerned about her husband’s health since he is “suffering from a high fever at the detention centre in Tokyo”.

Carole Ghosn said her “information is limited to news reports as no one in his family has been allowed to contact with him since November 19” and pleaded with “Japanese authorities to provide us with any information at all about my husband’s health”.

“We are fearful and very worried his recovery will be complicated while he continues to endure such harsh conditions and unfair treatment,” she added.

Following an indictment last month on charges of submitting financial accounts that understated his salary, the latest allegations against Mr Ghosn revolve around the transfer of derivatives losses between Mr Ghosn’s private asset management company and Nissan, and payments made to a Saudi businessman after the transfer.

Motonari Otsuru, the head of Mr Ghosn’s Japan-based legal team, has warned that his client could remain behind bars for another six months if he is indicted again, even as he continued to deny all the charges against him. Nor is Mr Ghosn’s legal team ruling out the possibility he could be arrested for a fourth time over new allegations. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019