RENAULT says it has decided to retain chief executive Carlos Ghosn despite his arrest in Japan on allegations that he misused assets of partner Nissan and misreported his income.
Renault’s board of directors announced yesterday that the second-in-command at the company, chief operating officer Thierry Bolloré, would temporarily fill in for Ghosn as deputy chief executive.
‘Mr Ghosn, temporarily incapacitated, remains chairman and chief executive officer,’ a statement from Renault’s board said. While Ghosn deals with his legal issues in Japan, Bolloré will have the same authority to run the company as the CEO, it added.
Renault’s board said its decision was made with an eye towards keeping the company on a steady course ‘to preserve the interests of the group and the continuity of its operations’.
Ghosn runs Renault, Nissan and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance that he helped turn into the world’s biggest car-seller last year, and France and Japan want to keep it intact.
Renault’s move to appoint a temporary leader was in line with a demand by the French government, which owns a 15 per cent stake in the firm. Finance minister Bruno Le Maire had said earlier that Ghosn wasn’t in a position to lead the Renault Group while fighting the accusations in Japan.
The French car maker said after an emergency meeting of its board of directors in Paris that it would further consolidate its alliance with Nissan. The two firms have a partnership with smaller car maker Mitsubishi.
Asked about reports that Nissan and Renault had been on the verge of merging, Nissan’s chief executive Hiroto Saikawa told reporters he had not heard of such a plan.
Meanwhile, Nissan said today that Ghosn will be held in custody for another 10 days, according to Japanese media reports.
The Kyodo News service also reported that another Nissan executive, representative director Greg Kelly, will be detained for another 10 days. Kelly was arrested on suspicion of collaborating in the wrongdoing.
Earlier this year, Ghosn signed a contract that would have run until 2022.
Renault’s board said it was requesting that Nissan give it details of its investigation into Ghosn’s alleged wrongdoing. Le Maire added that authorities had examined Ghosn’s tax affairs in France but had found no wrongdoing.
Japanese prosecutors said they were holding Ghosn, 64, for allegedly collaborating to falsify securities statements and under-reporting $44.6m in income from 2011 to 2015.