Former Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance chairman Carlos Ghosn is in serious legal trouble. In case you missed it, Carlos Ghosn was arrested a few days ago in Japan for alleged financial misconduct, specifically under-reporting $44 million of income and other misuses of company funds. He is currently being ousted from his role of Nissan and Mitsubishi chairman. But what about Renault?
For now, he’s still on board, though in a far more limited capacity. According to Reuters, Renault’s board has now appointed an interim chairman, high-ranking board member Philippe Lagayette, and COO Thierry Bollore as CEO, to replace Ghosn who formerly held both roles.
However, Ghosn hasn’t been fired from Renault. Why? Because no proof of guilt has yet to be provided. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Marie told Bloomberg that Ghosn “is de facto not in a position to run the group” and that the French government, Renault’s biggest and most powerful shareholder, is all in favor of his two replacements. However, it won’t “demand his formal departure from the board for a very simple reason,” Le Marie added. “We have no proof.”
This is because Japanese authorities, who conducted the investigation against Ghosn, have not shared their findings with all appropriate parties. The French government is now seeking evidence from Japanese authorities before it can ultimately decide Ghosn’s fate.
Nissan only began investigating Ghosn after a whistleblower came forward with sensitive information. Just prior to his arrest, the French government was actually seeking to secure the alliance’s future until at least 2022 when Ghosn’s term was originally supposed to conclude. The French government, including President Emmanuel Macron, was completely caught off guard by Ghosn’s arrest and some are even suggesting the whole investigation was a way for some of Ghosn’s Japanese corporate rivals to permanently get rid of him.
Word has it that top Nissan executives still hold grudges against Ghosn because he was able to save Nissan from the brink years ago when they could not. He was responsible for making projects like the GT-R and Leaf happen. Call it a possible case of corporate jealousy and payback. But whatever happens, the era of Carlos Ghosn is likely coming to an end.