Let the conspiracy theories begin.
Last week, Nissan and Mitsubishi Chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested by Japanese authorities after being accused of grossly underreporting his earnings at Nissan by $88 million over five years and using company funds for personal gain. Japanese media claims he used these funds to purchase as many as six houses around the world.
He was then fired by Nissan for gross misconduct and has now also been fired by Mitsubishi. In a statement, Mitsubishi said that "Ghosn has lost the confidence of Nissan" and it is "difficult for him to fulfill his duties" at Mitsubishi. Ghosn remains in jail but has not been formally charged.
According to Japanese media, Ghosn is denying these claims to investigators. Greg Kelly, a former Nissan executive who was also arrested, defended his boss's compensation, saying it was discussed with other officials and paid out appropriately.
There’s even now talks of possible conspiracy theories. Don’t forget, Ghosn was previously branded as a hero for reviving Nissan after it nearly went bankrupt in the early 2000s. There also hasn’t been any solid proof of Ghosn’s crimes, which is why Renault still hasn’t removed him. France's economy minister Bruno Le Maire has urged Nissan to "quickly" share any evidence gathered and stressed Ghosn will stay at the helm of Renault "until there are tangible charges".
Reports now claim that Ghosn was planning deeper business ties between Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault, but some Nissan executives feared this could result in their company being reduced to a junior partner.
During a meeting attended by hundreds of employees, Nissan’s CEO, Hiroto Saikawa, apologized to staff for the scandal and told them that Ghosn had too much power. Saikawa blamed his former boss for concentrating too much authority in himself at all three automakers, according to Automotive News. Saikawa said that Ghosn’s position of all three automakers and CEO of Renault was an “unequal” setup and claimed that Nissan’s brand image had become blurred with Ghosn’s persona.
Is this a case of "palace coup" to allow executives to gain more control of Nissan? No doubt more information will be uncovered as the investigation continues.