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Nissan directors: Who helped Carlos Ghosn?

Christian de La Chapelle

Nissan directors want to know who helped Carlos Ghosn, the executive who hid more than $140 million in compensation and retirement benefits from investors, in his alleged misconduct.

Some directors will reportedly ask to see a list of about 80 names of Ghosn accomplices compiled by an internal auditor who has since left the company when shareholders meet Tuesday, according to the Wall Street Journal. One of the directors told The Wall Street Journal that "directors plan to ask for this other report, and won't leave without a full explanation of it," according to the paper.

Specifically, there are Nissan directors who believe that Hari Nada, the head of the legal department for the company and a vice president who is on the list, needs to be asked to resign from his job or have his duties reduced even though he helped Japanese authorities arrest Ghosn.

The list was made by Christina Murray, who was Nissan's former head of auditing. She compiled the names of  80 employees the company believes aided Ghosn in some capacity and ranked them in the complicity on a scale of 0-5, according to the Journal. The directors learned about the list after a briefing on Ghosn's alleged misconduct. They want to see this list at Tuesday's board meeting to understand the breadth of the scandal.  One of the directors told the Wall Street Journal that "directors plan to ask for this other report, and won't leave without a full explanation of it."

According to a report it gave to its board in September, the company believes that Ghosn, its former chairman and CEO, "made arrangements to avoid disclosure by Nissan of compensation exceeding an estimated total of 20 billion yen [$185.6 million dollars] . . . Furthermore, the investigation determined that Ghosn directed, or intended to direct, a total of at least 15 billion yen [139.2 million dollars] in improper expenditures by Nissan under pretexts other than compensation."

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In 2018, Ghosn was taken into custody in Tokyo on charges of not reporting earnings and, later, misusing Nissan assets for his own personal gain. He had already stepped away from his role as CEO in 2017 prior to any of the allegations. Ghosn was then ejected from his role as chairman of Nissan by the board. Ghosn was arrested again on April 4, in Tokyo, on new charges regarding financial malfeasance at Nissan. Ghosn denies doing anything wrong.

Nissan agreed to pay $15 million and Ghosn, will pay $1 million to settle U.S. regulators' civil fraud charges of hiding more than $140 million in compensation and retirement benefits for Ghosn from investors. Neither admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement Monday with the major Japanese automaker and its former chairman, who also agreed to be barred for 10 years from serving as an officer or director of a public company. Ghosn is awaiting trial in Japan on financial misconduct allegations in a criminal case. Ghosn and Nissan Motor Co. settled the charges without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, but agreed to refrain from future anti-fraud violations of the securities laws.

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