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Nissan chairman arrested in Japan after criminal investigation

By Clyde Hughes
Nissan chairman arrested in Japan after criminal investigation
Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn delivers a Keynote Address at the 2017 International CES trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Nissan Motors chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested Monday for allegedly understating his income by about $44 million over the past five years, the company stated.

Nissan's chief executive officer Hiroto Saikawa confirmed the arrest during a news conference in Tokyo Monday afternoon, according to Bloomberg News. The Nissan board is currently moving to dismiss Ghosn as chairman as well.

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Prosecutors say Ghosn under-reported his salary by "several hundred of millions of yen," which would be a violation of Japanese law.

Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun reported Monday the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office had moved to arrest Ghosn, 64, after interviewing him.

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In a statement Monday, Nissan accused Ghosn of "significant" misconduct that included using assets for personal use. The automaker said Ghosn and another director, Greg Kelly, had been under investigation by the company for several months following complaints by a whistle-blower.

"In regards to Ghosn, numerous other significant acts of misconduct have been uncovered, such as personal use of company assets, and Kelly's deep involvement has also been confirmed," Nissan said, adding it gave information on its findings to prosecutors.

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"As the misconduct uncovered through our internal investigation constitutes clear violations of the duty of care as directors, Nissan's chief executive officer Hiroto Saikawa will propose to the Nissan board of directors to promptly remove Ghosn from his positions as chairman and representative director. Saikawa will also propose the removal of Greg Kelly from his position as representative director."

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Ghosn has served as both Nissan's president and chief operating officer since June 2001. He joined Nissan from Renault SA in 1999. He added president of Renault to his title in 2005 and helped guide the move to partner with Mitsubishi Motors. He became chairman of Mitsubishi in 2016.

Ghosn stepped down as Nissan's CEO in 2017, but continued to serve as chairman of its board.

The Financial Times reported the accusations now put Ghosn's actions at Renault and Mitsubishi under scrutiny, as well.

Monday's news sent Renault stock tumbling 9.8 percent and Nissan is down 7.6 percent in Germany.

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