Nissan severs last ties with ousted Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn and wife Carole Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn and wife Carole Ghosn

Nissan Motor is expected to remove Carlos Ghosn from its board at an extraordinary shareholders meeting after the former chairman and the Japanese carmaker were charged with financial misconduct. Other votes had been submitted in advance.

They also voted in Senard as a director, a move that was widely seen as an attempt to assuage concern about the future of the Nissan-Renault automaking alliance engineered by Ghosn. Renault has a 43 per cent voting stake in Nissan, which has no reciprocal rights with its 15 per cent stake in its French partner.

Renault chairperson Jean-Dominique Senard was announced as Ghosn's replacement.

The company removed Ghosn as chairperson shortly after his initial arrest, but an extraordinary meeting that drew almost 4,200 shareholders was required to remove him from the board. The approval Monday was shown by applause from the shareholders gathered at a Tokyo hotel. "I really regret that", 77-year-old shareholder Isamu Beppu told AFP before the meeting.

Nissan officials have said an internal investigation found "substantial evidence of blatantly unethical conduct" by Ghosn.

Mr Ghosn and Greg Kelly, his gatekeeper and confidant, were arrested on suspicion of financial misconduct, thanks to a whistle-blowing tip from inside Nissan. The meeting was closed except to stockholders but livestreamed.

One shareholder said the entire management should resign immediately.

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa opened the meeting with a speech outlining the allegations against his former mentor, accusing him of misusing funds and seeking to hide his compensation. Another shareholder asked if Nissan was prepared for a damage lawsuit from shareholders since its stock price has plunged.

"I can't comprehend how this could have happened, despite having auditors", said Setsuko Shibata, a retired homemaker who said her family had held Nissan shares for decades.

Notably, Ghosn's sister has been paid consultation fees for the past 13 years related to the company's investigation.

Ken Miyamoto, 65, a Nissan shareholder, said he was disappointed.

Prior to his arrest, Ghosn said he'd explain his actions this week. "I guess he became complacent as people kept praising him too much".

It is the end, in both name and reality, of the nearly 20-year "Ghosn regime", which had lasted since the former chairman produced a V-shaped recovery of crisis-ridden Nissan in the late 1990s.

Ghosn can be held for up to 22 days by Japanese authorities before he is charged.

The decision comes a week after Ghosn, who had previously been released on bail, was detained for a fourth time by Japanese prosecutors over fresh charges that he used Nissan funds for personal benefits.

Ghosn will remain in custody until April 14 after a court approved his detention. A date for his trial has not yet been decided.

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa attends a joint news conference in Yokohama, Japan, on March 12, 2019. "We need to fulfill the task (of improving governance) and prepare the company for our next steps, and then pass the leadership baton", Saikawa told shareholders.

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