Japanese authorities on Wednesday (Nov 21) extended Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn's detention by 10 days, as it emerged the auto giant itself could face charges over the alleged financial misconduct that laid low its once-loved leader.
During an urgent meeting on Tuesday evening, Renault's Board of Directors resolved that the lead independent director Philippe Lagayette will preside over its meetings on an interim basis and that the Deputy CEO Thierry Bollore will "therefore lead the management team of the Group, having the same powers as Mr. Carlos Ghosn", who was arrested in Japan for alleged embezzlement.
"All corporate governance procedures are fully functional, allowing Groupe Renault to pursue the normal course of its industrial and commercial operations", Renault also said. Under Japanese law, the pair can be kept in custody for up to 23 days without charge.
Nissan has accused Ghosn of under-reporting his salary over a period of several years and "numerous significant acts of misconduct".
Nissan has told Renault board members that the company is looking into potential wrongdoing at the alliance's Amsterdam-based joint venture, RNBV, according to three people familiar with the matter. It is believed that the instruction was given to executive officers in charge of compiling securities reports via his closest aide, Kelly.
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According to a new report from the Financial Times, Nissan's board opposed Ghosn's plan to merge Nissan and Renault-a plan that was set to materialize within months, according to the paper's sources.
"Ghosn is likely the most successful foreign chairman in Japan", said Kosuke Sato, a senior economist at the Japan Research Institute. If true, it would be only be the second such bargain in modern Japanese history.
He had a reputation as a workaholic and won the nickname "Le Cost Cutter" in France for his slash-and-burn approach to corporate restructuring.
The merger would have rendered the Renault-Nissan alliance "irreversible".
"He trampled on Japanese cultural norms with his flamboyant glory-hogging ways, and his massive compensation incited jealousies and invited retaliation", he told AFP.
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Renault owns 43% of Nissan while in turn the Japanese firm has a 15% stake in Renault.
The Brazilian-born businessman has been credited with turning around both Nissan and Renault before becoming the linchpin of the alliance the companies later formed.
Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University Japan, said that Ghosn was "a victim of his own hubris and success".
The Yomiuri Shimbun on Tuesday quoted Nissan executives slamming Ghosn as "greedy".
His arrest has also raised alarms among Renault's French workers about what lies ahead.
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"I hope our future isn't at risk".