Ghosn to leave Renault’s board amid legal fight

By BLOOMBERG

PARIS • Renault SA’s former boss Carlos Ghosn (picture) will quit the board along with two other directors as the French carmaker takes further steps to distance itself from the fallen auto executive who is facing charges for financial crimes in Japan, according to people familiar with the matter.

In addition to Ghosn, Cherie Blair and Philippe Lagayette will also leave the board, said the people, who declined to be named because the information isn’t yet public. Annette Winkler, the former head of Daimler AG’s Smart brand of cars, will be proposed as a new director, they said. Ghosn resigned as chairman and CEO of the French carmaker in January.

Renault is working to get its house in order following Ghosn’s shock arrest on Nov 19 in Tokyo, an event that precipitated a crisis within the three-way partnership with Nissan Motor Co Ltd and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. The fallen executive has denied accusations of financial misconduct at Nissan, charges that prompted Renault to undertake its own internal investigation. The probe has ended, one of the people said.

In further steps to put an end to the Ghosn era, Renault’s board also decided on his successors’ salaries.

Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard will receive a fixed salary of €450,000 (RM2.06 million) a year with no bonuses or stock options, while CEO Thierry Bollore will get close to €1 million in salary, with additional variable compensation, according to the people.

The pay is less than what Ghosn earned at Renault. Last year, Renault shareholders only narrowly approved a €7.4 million pay package for 2017. For 2018, the carmaker scrapped millions of euros in payouts to him including benefits from a non-compete agreement he signed in 2015 and stockbased compensation that was conditional on him staying at the company.

Meanwhile, there were new twists in the drama surrounding Ghosn’s legal woes in Japan. Hours after he took to Twitter to announce he would give a news conference on April 11 to “tell the truth” about the accusations, Sankei newspaper reported that Ghosn would be re-arrested by prosecutors in Tokyo on a new charge of breach of trust.

Renault and Nissan have uncovered payments made under Ghosn that allegedly went toward corporate jets, a yacht and his son’s start-up, leading the French carmaker to alert authorities about potential wrongdoing, people familiar with the matter have said. The transactions were revealed in probes and amounted to millions of euros to companies in Oman and Lebanon that may have then been used for the personal benefit of Ghosn and his family, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. — Bloomberg