Renault: ‘Ghosn to remain in prison at Christmas’
Last Tuesday, several Japanese media say that the Tokyo court is going file new charges against Carlos Ghosn for under-reporting earnings and misuse of company assets for the 2015-2017 period. The Brazilian-born Renault CEO will, most likely, be spending Christmas in his Japanese prison cell.
With the new allegations, the ex-chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors (but still CEO of Renault) who was arrested on November 19th will stay in prison at the end of his 22-day detention on December 10th.
31 million not declared last two years
Before only the period between 2010 and 2015 were taken into account, while this time the period 2015 – 2017 is investigated in which Ghosn would not have declared some 4 billion yen (31 million euro) to the Japanese tax services.
“After 15 days of detention in difficult conditions, he is still in a fighting spirit”, declares Renault. The CEO, who denies any claims, knows he will stay imprisoned for quite a while. He even asked for some detective novels. In addition to the known charges, Ghosn could also face accusations of embezzlement and misappropriation of corporate assets.
Who is to replace Ghosn?
At Nissan, the three independent administrators – ex-officer to the Economy Ministry, Masakazu Toyoda, ex-Renault executive, Jean-Baptiste Duzan, and famous racing driver, Keiko Ihara – have started Tuesday their hunt for a new chairman. A candidate should be presented during the December 17th council.
At Renault, Ghosn is still CEO. For now, COO Thierry Bolloré has been installed as temporary CEO but the French car maker still believes in Ghosn.
“There already have been some imprisoned CEOs that continued to run their companies before”, says one of Ghosn’s defenders by citing the presumption of innocence. “The legal approach followed today by Bolloré and deputy director to the presidency, Mouna Sepehri, will set up Renault against Nissan. Nothing good can come out of this”, an expert adds.
‘Stall the Japanese’
“The urgency for Renault and the French State is to stall the Japanese that want to change the balance in the alliance”, explains a deputy close to the case, “by keeping Ghosn as CEO, the government waits for the situation to calm down or even rot so it can have the hands on the negotiations. Today, the government is in a weak position.”
In Boulogne-Billancourt, France, Bolloré tries to solidify his position in the group. According to sources, he should become CEO in February next year. Pushed by this crisis, the future boss is in constant contact with State representatives sitting on the board of Renault to build a management of its own.