Carlos Ghosn set to remain as Renault CEO as probe into alleged wrongdoing expands

ETIENNE LAURENT/AFP/Getty ImagesRenault CEO Carlos Ghosn
  • Carlos Ghosn, arrested Monday, is set to remain head of French car giant Renault.
  • Thierry BollorĂ© is set to take interim charge at the car maker as deputy CEO.
  • The probe into Ghosn’s alleged wrongdoing has extended to bonus abuses.
  • Japanese prosecutors are considering widening their investigation into Nissan’s alleged wrongdoing.

Carlos Ghosn, the recently arrested head of major car brands Nissan, Mitsubishi Motors, and Renault looks set to stay on as CEO and Chairman of the French giant.

At a board meeting Tuesday, executives at the French automaker stated that Ghosn would remain in place despite being “temporarily incapacitated.” Renault announced that Thierry BollorĂ©, who already handles many day-to-day tasks, would become Deputy CEO with the same powers held by the Brazil-born Ghosn. Renault’s stock, 15% of which is owned by the French government, traded up 2.6% as of 8.45 a.m. in Paris (2.45 a.m. EST).

Ghosn was arrested in Tokyo Monday. Prosecutors in Japan allege that the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance chairman and CEO earned a salary of about 10 billion yen, or $US88.7 million, from 2011 to 2015, but reported only half of that. Ghosn could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 10 million yen if found to have committed any wrongdoing.

The executive is also accused of failing to report cash bonuses totaling about 4 billion yen ($US35.6 million), according to Asahi Shimbun. Japanese prosecutors are also looking into the possibility of investigating Nissan over its failures to uncover the underreporting over the period.

Nissan has also alleged Ghosn misused company funds, reportedly through purchasing houses in global cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Paris. Ghosn is a titan of the auto world known as “Le Cost Killer” in France for taking a strong approach to turning around struggling businesses.

Renault and Nissan have had a strategic partnership since 1999 that later included Mitsubishi, with Ghosn, 64, acting as chairman of all three companies while also serving as CEO at Renault. It is a car-making powerhouse: The alliance sold more than 10.6 million cars in 2017, which would be the most of any single automaker in the world.

Ghosn had been planning a merger between Renault and Nissan, something the Japanese company’s board was set against, according to the Financial Times.

Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko called into question the alliance’s future without Ghosn at the helm Tuesday. “I don’t think there is anyone else on Earth like Ghosn who could run Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi,” Masuko told reporters in Tokyo. Renault owns a 43.4% stake in Nissan, while Nissan owns 15% of the French company. Nissan also owns a 34% controlling stake in Japanese rival Mitsubishi.

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