Renault finds no illegal payments to Carlos Ghosn in past two years

Investigation will now examine payments made to former Nissan chairman before 2017

Renault has said it has so far found no evidence of illegal or fraudulent payments to Carlos Ghosn, despite the chief executive of the French carmaker remaining under arrest in Japan.

Ghosn was arrested in November by Japanese authorities over allegations he underreported income from Nissan, the carmaker he formerly led alongside Renault. He remains in the custody of Japanese authorities in Tokyo.

The arrest has sparked fears for the future of the unconventional alliance he headed between Renault, Nissan and fellow Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi. Nissan and Mitsubishi promptly removed Ghosn from their boards, but Renault has not. The Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian businessman, whose wife raised concerns about his health in detention on Thursday, is still Renault’s chief executive and chairman.

Renault plans to extend its review of all payments to Ghosn to previous financial years, after its board released a statement on Thursday evening saying it has not seen evidence of wrongdoing in the past two years.

The Renault board’s statement said: “The review process has examined the compensation of the current Groupe Renault executive committee members for the financial years 2017 and 2018 and has concluded that it is both in compliance with applicable laws and free from any fraud.”

Renault’s ethics advisers, Claude Baland and Eric Le Grand, will prepare a further report for the next board meeting.

The arrest of Ghosn has prompted scrutiny of governance at Renault. One of Ghosn’s senior executives received an additional six-figure salary unknown to the carmaker’s board via the Dutch joint venture overseeing its alliance with Nissan, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Ghosn and Greg Kelly, another senior Nissan director at the centre of the scandal, approved payments totalling €500,000 (£450,000) to Renault general secretary Mouna Sepehri, who is responsible for corporate governance in her role as board secretary.

Renault did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the payments to Sepehri.

Ghosn and Kelly have been charged in Japan with failing to disclose $43m (£34m) in additional compensation for 2010-15 that Ghosn had arranged to be paid later. They deny that the deferred compensation agreements were illegal or required disclosure.

Ghosn proclaimed his innocence on Tuesday in his first public appearance since his arrest, which shocked the global car industry and corporate Japan.

“I have always acted with integrity and have never been accused of any wrongdoing in my several-decade professional career. I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations,” the 64-year-old told a packed Tokyo courtroom.


Jasper Jolly

The GuardianTramp

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