Shares in vehicle makers Renault and Nissan have slumped following reports that their joint chairman, Carlos Ghosn, is to be arrested in Japan on suspicion of falsifying financial statements and that he is about to be removed from his position by the board.
Japanese media reported that Ghosn, who is also chairman and chief executive of Nissan's French partner Renault and one of the best known figures in the global auto industry, had been arrested. Of all these companies, Nissan is already seeking the removal of Ghosn from his post.
Japanese media are reporting Ghosn will be arrested on Monday on suspicion of under-reporting his salary.
The Japanese automaker said that based on a whistleblower report, it had been investigating possible improper practices by Ghosn and Representative Director Greg Kelly for several months, and that it was fully cooperating with investigators.
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Shares of the French carmaker fell as much as 15% in Paris, while Nissan global depository receipts sank more than 11%.
"Nissan deeply apologizes for causing great concern to our shareholders and stakeholders", the company said.
Among the best paid executives in both Japan and France for several years, Ghosn's compensation has regularly drawn criticism. Ghosn receives numerous paychecks in his multiple roles as chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, CEO of Renault, and chairman of both Nissan and Mitsubishi.
"As the misconduct uncovered through our internal investigation constitutes clear violations of the duty of care as directors, Nissan's Chief Executive Officer Hiroto Saikawa will propose to the Nissan Board of Directors to promptly remove Ghosn from his positions as Chairman and Representative Director".
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He concurrently became president of Renault in 2005 and led the move to partner with Mitsubishi Motors Corp.in 2016 after that automaker was found to have falsified fuel-efficiency data.
A spokesman for Renault couldn't be reached for immediate comment. "We will continue our work to identify our governance and compliance issues, and to take appropriate measures", it said.
Ghosn has been contemplating his next career step as the companies look to change the pact's structure, possibly through a merger.
Mr Ghosn, 64, who has French, Brazilian and Lebanese passports, was reported to have been summoned for questioning over allegations of tax evasion in Japan. In addition to this, he received €9.2 million in his final year as Nissan chief executive.
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