Carlos Ghosn’s Versailles Wedding Under Scrutiny as Nissan-Renault Probe Intensifies
Nissan Motor Co. (NSANY) and Renault SA (RNSDF) have launched a joint investigation of former chairman Carlos Ghosn at the Amsterdam-based company that oversees the Japanese-French partnership, The Japan Times reported Wednesday.
Ghosn has been in a Tokyo jail since his arrest on Nov. 19. He has been indicted on charges of understating his income at Nissan by about $80 million and temporarily transferring personal trading losses to the carmaker. Ghosn maintains the allegations against him are the result of “plot and treason.”
In its own investigation, Renault identified an improper personal benefit tied to Ghosn’s 2016 wedding at the Chateau de Versailles, which it plans to inform authorities about. The company said Wednesday that Renault’s sponsorship of renovations at Versailles also covered the rental of the Grand Trianon palace for Ghosn’s 2016 wedding reception, a value of €50,000 ($56,700).
In a separate development, Nissan has said that it is also going to include the undeclared remuneration of 9 billion yen ($82 million) to Ghosn in its earnings report next week but that it will also freeze payments to the former executive, The Japan Times says. A source said Nissan is also considering filing a damages suit against Ghosn for other financial misdeeds including purchases of luxury homes. Nissan is also facing a civil investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of whether its executive pay disclosures were accurate and whether Nissan had adequate controls to prevent improper payments.
Meanwhile, Nissan is unlikely to appoint new Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard as its chairman, and the two automakers are unlikely to share a chairman again in the future, The Japan Times reports. Nissan plans to appoint Senard to its board as a director after a shareholder vote on April 8, when Ghosn and his long-time aide Greg Kelly, who has also faced charges in Japan, will be removed.
French media is also reporting that Ghosn founded a €30 million fund in Switzerland in 2018 that might have been a pretext for him to move his tax domicile there from the Netherlands. Nikkei reports the move could have been prompted by the impending expiration of a tax break Ghosn had received in the Netherlands, where he had moved from France in 2012 to avoid a wealth tax.