For years, Carlos Ghosn has ruled both Renault and Nissan with an iron hand, closing or contracting factories when they were over-producing vehicles for both companies, attempting to put Nissan in particular on a more fiscally responsible road to profitability in all of its worldwide ventures.
Always one to give statements with authority and to quell any dissent from within, Ghosn has been both manufacturers’ savior and, from time to time, their sentence. Gruff, demanding and also cordial when he wants to be, Ghosn has had it all in the automobile universe.
Until the last few days, all the talk about Carlos Ghosn has been about product, profitability and the manner in which the former has achieved the latter. Ghosn has managed to turn around Nissan, which was flailing at the close of the last century, through his use of power. The man’s improvements to the Japanese company can’t be understated.
On Monday, everything changed with his arrest in Japan. Current chairman and past CEO of Nissan, chairman and CEO of Renault and chairman of Mitsubishi, which his team acquired in 2016, Carlos Ghosn has reigned over a multi-cultural automotive pantheon. All of which needed help that the Brazilian-born French citizen was able to provide.
Nissan announced on Monday that their chairman had been arrested in Tokyo, along with another board member. The charges are alleged financial misconduct and “numerous other significant acts of misconduct” within the Japanese company. A board meeting has been called for Thursday in Japan, although the specifics of misconduct have not been laid out. Blandly, Nissan cites misstatements of his compensation over several years and “personal use of company assets.”
In some cases, Ghosn has received domiciles instead of funds for his work with Nissan (the Mitsubishi alliance is too new to fit into this saga). Understatement of his Nissan compensation is alleged in the reports, for the five-year period from 2011 through 2015.
Once the Nissan board has met in two days and discussed the issue, it’s highly likely more information will be publicly available. It’s widely expected the country of France, which controls most of Renault’s worth, will remove him once Nissan’s assertions are made public. It’s also not known whether the Renault Formula 1 team or WEC Nissan-powered LMP2 racecar production and competition will be affected by the expected management change.