Nissan Boss Admits Accepting Payment He Wasn’t Entitled To But Denies Wrongdoing

Nissan Boss Admits Accepting Payment He Wasn’t Entitled To But Denies Wrongdoing
Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa attends a news conference to release first quarter earnings at the company headquarters in Yokohama, Japan July 25, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Issei Kato)

Japan's Nissan is not only wallowing in low profits but is facing not just one, but two scandals after former company chairman Carlos Ghosn got accused of misrepresenting his compensation followed by the company's president and CEO, Hiroto Saikawa, getting accused of financial misconduct.

The company is undergoing an overhaul for strong governance after the incident with Ghosn, who was the brains for the Nissan-Renault merger.

After such incidents, Nissan shareholders voted different measures that include three new oversight committees to take charge of appointing senior officials, auditing and pay issues.

Eleven more directors got approved. Two of them are Renault executives.

Thinking this "issue" that Saikawa entrusted to someone got taken cared of "in an appropriate manner," Saikawa said he will return the payments and is "deeply sorry for causing concern" denying any wrongdoing in the process,

This admission happened after it got reported that an internal investigation found Saikawa, who had been CEO since 2017, and other executives got more equity-linked remuneration that they were entitled to.

Nissan said that its internal probe is to be reported to the board of directors on September 9.

It was also said that Nissan's share appreciation rights will also be a part of this report.

Greg Kelly, Ghosn's former close aide and accused of conspiring in this underreporting of his old boss's remuneration said that Saikawa changed the execution date of his stock appreciation rights to gain ¥47 million ($443,000) in 2013.

Kelly was also arrested the same time as Ghosn last year.

Unnamed sources mentioned Nissan doesn't think such overpayments were illegal because it is based on the company's stock appreciation rights, a scheme wherein directors can receive a bonus the moment Nissan's share prices rise above a certain level during a set period.

This stock appreciation rights scheme was to raise morale among executives.

Junichiro Hironaka, one of Ghosn's defense lawyers said that "Nissan must have known" about the payment to Saikawa during its internal probe into Ghosn but "turned a blind eye" on him and went after his client instead.

Ghosn is awaiting trial on charges of not only underreporting millions of dollars but also of dipping into the company funds.

He, in denying any wrongdoing accused Nissan executives in the process of plotting against him together with France's Renault for a French takeover of the company.

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