Paris: Renault SA said a probe into finances under Carlos Ghosn has found some questionable expenses made by the former chairman, who is facing charges of financial crimes in Japan.
Certain expenses “are a source of concern, as they involve questionable and concealed practices and violations of the group’s ethical principles,” Renault said in a statement on Wednesday. The board pointed in particular to some “concerning relationships with third parties, management of conflicts of interest, and protection of corporate assets.”
Renault said the lasted findings come on top of others already flagged to French authorities and that it could take legal action in France.
Renault is working to get its house in order following Ghosn’s shock arrest on Nov. 19 in Tokyo, an event that precipitated a crisis within the three-way partnership with Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. He has denied accusations of financial misconduct at Nissan and is awaiting trial. Ghosn resigned as chairman and CEO of Renault in January and the company began its own internal investigation, which has now ended.
Ghosn will quit a slimmed-down board along with Cherie Blair and Philippe Lagayette, Renault said. Bloomberg reported on the planned changes last month. Annette Winkler, the former head of Daimler AG’s Smart brand of cars, will be proposed as a new director.
In further steps to put an end to the era under the high-flying executive, Renault’s board also decided on his successors’ salaries. Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard will receive a fixed salary of 450,000 euros (Dh1.86 million; $506,000) a year with no bonuses or stock options, while CEO Thierry Bollore will get close to 900,000 euros in salary, with additional variable compensation and advantages, people familiar with the matter said.
The pay is less than what Ghosn earned at Renault. Last year, shareholders only narrowly approved a 7.4 million-euro pay package for 2017. For 2018, the carmaker scrapped millions of euros in payouts to him including benefits from a non-compete agreement he signed in 2015 and stock-based compensation that was conditional on him staying at the company.
On Wednesday, the board also decided Ghosn isn’t entitled to a retirement salary top up of about 765,000 euros a year, the people said.
Meanwhile, there were new twists in the drama surrounding Ghosn’s legal woes in Japan. Hours after he took to Twitter to announce he would give a news conference on April 11 to “tell the truth” about the accusations, Sankei newspaper reported that Ghosn would be rearrested by prosecutors in Tokyo on a new charge of breach of trust.
Renault and Nissan have uncovered payments made under Ghosn that allegedly went toward corporate jets, a yacht and his son’s start-up, leading the French carmaker to alert authorities about potential wrongdoing, people familiar with the matter have said. The transactions were revealed in probes and amounted to millions of euros to companies in Oman and Lebanon that may have then been used for the personal benefit of Ghosn and his family, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public.
Renault’s board Wednesday also discussed findings of an ongoing investigation into RNBV, the Amsterdam-based company charged with operating the three-company car alliance. One of the people said auditors are examining the extent of actual work billed by consultants, including French politician Rachida Dati, as well as payments made for Ghosn’s Lebanese lawyers, an extended weekend in Copacabana, and an event at the Palace of Versailles for the anniversary of the Renault-Nissan alliance.