Sources say morale in Nissan has been damaged by Ghosn's public slamming of the firm Photo: AFP/File
business

Ghosn case adds to Nissan's financial problems

44 Comments
By Etienne BALMER

Out of Japan and free to speak to the media, a fugitive Carlos Ghosn is proving a fresh headache for his old firm Nissan as it struggles to rebuild its reputation.

The tycoon who once headed the automaker jumped bail and fled Japan last month while awaiting trial on financial misconduct charges. And he has not pulled any punches when it comes to the firm he helped turn around.

He accuses executives there of effectively setting him up, in a bid to block his plans for further integration with Nissan's French partner Renault.

And in a press conference on Wednesday in Lebanon, where he emerged after his audacious escape, he slammed the firm's executives, accusing them of losing shareholder value and pursuing a vendetta.

Nissan has remained largely silent, waiting until Jan 7 to release a statement calling his decision to flee "extremely regrettable" and insisting it had uncovered "numerous acts of misconduct" by the tycoon.

The firm faces its own legal proceedings linked to the case, which limits what it can say, a source close to Nissan told AFP.

"We have responsibilities, we must respect the law, we have obligations. It will be painful, but we have to do it."

Ghosn, meanwhile, in Lebanon and apparently beyond the reach of Japanese prosecutors, "can say what he wants, he has no more constraints," the source said.

In a lengthy and at times combative press conference on Wednesday, the former auto magnate once again accused Nissan executives of plotting his downfall and sought to rebut the charges against him.

"For the moment there is nothing new in Mr Ghosn's allegations against Nissan," Koji Endo, an automotive analyst at SBI Securities, told AFP.

"But if Ghosn continues with his negative campaign... the market will get more skeptical about Nissan's fundamental recovery and its brand image," he said.

And internally there is "no doubt" that seeing the firm slammed so publicly is hitting morale, Endo said.

"I've been told that lots of people continue to resign from Nissan, young engineers" in particular, he added.

The Ghosn scandal has already cost Nissan dearly. Its market cap has fallen more than $10 billion since his arrest.

"They lost more than $40 million a day," Ghosn said on Wednesday.

The losses coincide with an overall crisis in the auto industry, which has hit earnings, but Ghosn argues Nissan's desire to push him out has hurt profits and shareholder value.

Bloomberg News has also reported that Nissan spent $200 million on lawyers, investigators and private detectives during the scandal, a claim that insiders dismiss.

"The figure is ridiculously exaggerated. You probably need to take one zero off," one source inside Nissan told AFP.

But there have been other costs related to the case.

Nissan was forced to pay a $15 million fine in September to settle an investigation by U.S. securities regulators, who charged that the firm hid more than $140 million in Ghosn's expected retirement income from investors.

And in December, it said it would not contest a $22 million fine levied by Japan's Securities and Exchange Commission for filing documents that under-reported Ghosn's compensation.

It still faces questions from the Tokyo Stock Exchange, to avoid being delisted, and is the subject of legal action by shareholders in the United States.

Internally, the firm says it has tried to clean up shop implementing governance reforms and internal investigations.

Among those caught up in that were former CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who stepped down last year after admitting he had received more pay than he was entitled to.

Current Nissan executives have remained largely tight-lipped on their former colleague's broadsides.

"I don't have time to deal with a one-man show by someone who fled the country in violation of the law," Masakazu Toyoda, an external administrator told reporters acidly when asked for comment.

And Nissan's new management likely has more pressing things on its mind: profits have fallen to their lowest level in ten years and sources say a strategy will be presented to the board next week to reverse the slide.

© 2020 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


44 Comments
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Nissan was forced to pay a $15 million fine in September to settle an investigation by U.S. securities regulators, who charged that the firm hid more than $140 million in Ghosn's expected retirement income from investors.

And in December, it said it would not contest a $22 million fine levied by Japan's Securities and Exchange Commission for filing documents that under-reported Ghosn's compensation.

It still faces questions from the Tokyo Stock Exchange, to avoid being delisted, and is the subject of legal action by shareholders in the United States.

Internally, the firm says it has tried to clean up shop implementing governance reforms and internal investigations.

Among those caught up in that were former CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who stepped down last year after admitting he had received more pay than he was entitled to.

These few paragraphs show Ghosn's innocence and how he was scapegoated in an underhanded corporate coup. All the transactions he has been charged with were cleared by the board of directors.

"I don't have time to deal with a one-man show by someone who fled the country in violation of the law," Masakazu Toyoda

So, now, they are going to blame Ghosn for all their troubles. Ghosn left the Nissan three years ago and went to Mistubishi. Is it just a coincidence Nissan very quickly fell back into the poop after the management was returned to the same Japanese management structure that ran it into the ground 20 odd years ago? I think not!

29 ( +31 / -2 )

i always buy Japanese cars but will never buy a Nissan after this fiasco. Regardless of Ghosn's guilt or innocence his treatment has been deplorable. Why did his replacement not recieve similar treatment?

35 ( +37 / -2 )

These few paragraphs show Ghosn's innocence and how he was scapegoated in an underhanded corporate coup. All the transactions he has been charged with were cleared by the board of directors.

Agreed. Throw in this:

former CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who stepped down last year after admitting he had received more pay than he was entitled to.

and you’ve got a scapegoat named Ghosn.

31 ( +34 / -3 )

Nissan only has themselves to blame.

32 ( +33 / -1 )

Hope nissan goes bankrupt!

12 ( +17 / -5 )

Nissan may well have sacrificed its future just to rid itself of Ghosn!!

28 ( +29 / -1 )

"Ghosn case adds to Nissan's financial problems" Nothing that Nissan did not do on it's own.

I have never seen a time that the saying could be more accurate:

You made your bed, now lay on it!

29 ( +30 / -1 )

I got great news for you nissan! There's this guy that has a proven history of saving auto companies that just became available, only he might need to remotely work as he hates commutes.

21 ( +22 / -1 )

Nissan goes bankrupt!

12 ( +15 / -3 )

That’s the consequence of their actions. Karmas is a bitch!!

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Ghosn case adds to Nissan's financial problems

GOOD!!

Agree with all the above posters

14 ( +15 / -1 )

It is time for Japan to invite Ghosn back to Japan, with a grant of full immunity for any and all possible charges up to his re-entry. Of course return his bail money, fire the prosecutor, name and shame the government parties, and appoint him as project manager to reform Japan’s injustice system based upon his experience and that of others. This done, I rather suspect that Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault would welcome him back and he could get on with his job of securing their future. Just let me know a few days in advance and I’ll buy some stock.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

All the transactions he has been charged with were cleared by the board of directors.

False :

https://www.sec.gov/litigation/complaints/2019/comp24606.pdf

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

So, now, they are going to blame Ghosn for all their troubles. Ghosn left the Nissan three years ago and went to Mistubishi. Is it just a coincidence Nissan very quickly fell back into the poop after the management was returned to the same Japanese management structure that ran it into the ground 20 odd years ago? I think not!

His arrest coincidentally while he was working on alliance with Fiat Chrysler where some people in higher up just don't like it.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Start making cars that are exciting and people want, and things would turn around. For example, Nissan should be mass producing a lot more of their best car, the GTR. An all electric GTR, for example, at a very reasonable price, would be hugely popular. A High performance Hybrid SUV based on the LEAF would sell very well too.

Customers arent shunning Nissan because of the personalities of the board, its because the cars arent that good and havent been for a decade.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

"I've been told that lots of people continue to resign from Nissan, young engineers" in particular, he added.

This, more than anything else, is a sign of the end for Nissan. You can be sure that the engineers who are leaving are among their best - the talented ones who can easily pick up work elsewhere. They were the future of the company. The remainders will include those who are working toward their pensions, or those who are less creative and less skilled. The best always jump ship first.

This snowballs, as even people who want to buy a Nissan will have to worry about whether the company will still be around to provide after-care on their purchase.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

Nissan is learning the hard way that you don't air your dirty laundry in public.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

They should blame whoever pulled the strings on this. They could have handled this internally but decided to go all out public, thanks to that one egotistic backstabbing ojiisan.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Must be the average Nissan employee is pissed off at the management.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

I test drove a few Nissans once several years ago, just shutting the door you could tell the things were put together like tin cans. No thanks.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

And in December, it said it would not contest a $22 million fine levied by Japan's Securities and Exchange Commission for filing documents that under-reported Ghosn's compensation.

What I suspect happened is that the top brass of Nissan wanted Ghosn out and they used this to leverage a deal with the prosecutors that would let them off the hook for their misdeeds and watch Ghosn burn at the stake. The prosecutors were chomping at the bit to be named the ones that took Ghosn down; however, the case has hot been as open and shut at they were expecting and a lot of things Nissan said they would find hasn't been found so they are doing what they can to salvage the case against Ghosn.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I agree, the job of the board of directors foremost is to protect the shareholders and employees of the company. Obviously they failed and "normally" they need to be replaced. It is the BOD job to address any issues internally. There is no reason for the dramatic public hostility towards Ghosn or anyone.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

As a Nissan shareholder, I am mad at Saikawa and his nationalist gang who plotted this takedown for bringing all these troubles on Nissan. 40% of the company's market cap is wiped out, continues to lose $40million a day, had paid over $40m in fines already, spent $200million dollars on investigating some misapplication of funds a fraction of that. Who made those decisions that has brought us here? Nissan has lost about $10billion so far and no end in sight for the losses. Worst still, its reputation is in tatters, young brilliant engineers are all jumping before it goes down. If Tokyo Stock Exchange decides to delist it, then it is truly finished. All these could have been avoided if they had treated Ghosn's affair as an internal issue and made him refund any months es he had allegedly misappropriated.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

How could Ghosn have been accused of financial impropriety without the company which was paying him being implicated?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@N30N0M3N Perhaps that "Tatemae Overload" has something to do with it..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Mayunia82

Perhaps that "Tatemae Overload" has something to do with it.

Not sure what "tatemae overload" means... Does that mean the building up of resentment due to being insincerely polite too much and too often?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Good. Probably go bankrupt in a year without leadership. Who is going to invest in a sinking ship? If Nissan wishes to survive at all it'll be bought out, the perfect outcome for their betrayal of Ghosn

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I need a replacement badge for my 350z...something that doesn't say NISSAN... Thinking 'Ghosn ❤️'

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The ultimate irony will be if the merger goes through anyways.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Everyday the prosecutors make the news, Nissan loses more and more as people are reminded of their folly. Hoist on their own petard. Protecting their own like Saikawa who could just step down and the hypocrisy of going after Ghosn like a banana republic. By the time Nissan goes bankrupt it should still be fresh by the Olympics and will be synonymous. Really really bad idea but they can't stop

Usually the Olympics is about showcasing the nation and instead it'll do so not the way they wanted.

As bad as this all is, it's important that it happen, so that the oyajis can be sidelined at least a bit and Japan can then move forward and clean house. Just a question now of how far this goes

4 ( +4 / -0 )

   As a Nissan shareholder, I am mad at Saikawa and his nationalist gang who plotted this takedown for bringing all these troubles on Nissan. 40% of the company's market cap is wiped out, continues to lose $40million a day, had paid over $40m in fines already, spent $200million dollars on investigating some misapplication of funds a fraction of that. Who made those decisions that has brought us here? Nissan has lost about $10billion so far and no end in sight for the losses. Worst still, its reputation is in tatters, young brilliant engineers are all jumping before it goes down. If Tokyo Stock Exchange decides to delist it, then it is truly finished. All these could have been avoided if they had treated Ghosn's affair as an internal issue and made him refund any months es he had allegedly misappropriated.

Not only that instead focusing on growth and profit they also hire security company to do surveillance 24 hours on Ghosn while he was on bail.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

As a Nissan shareholder, I am mad at Saikawa and his nationalist gang who plotted this takedown for bringing all these troubles on Nissan.

Constantly amazed how people give away so much personal info here.

Ghosn was the architect of his own downfall. And like most white collar elitists, he'll probably get away with it.

At least his reputation and honesty is tarnished, which is the best one can hope for, currently.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

Constantly amazed how people give away so much personal info here.

Innit.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Well that 24 hr surveillance was as worth it. Perhaps the MOJ could could I don't know try to be professional. Nah much easier to make up leak stuff.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Constantly amazed how people give away so much personal info here.

so you now have a JT user ID and a person who states hes a Nissan shareholder, 1 of 10s thousands.

so what in this personal info is going to cause this unknown person problems!?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

GAVE my Nissans to Nigerian scrap yard yesterday, then went and bought a Lexus for me and the wife.

Nissan Upside down SAYS TITANIC!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Nissan goes bankrupt france state looses all its money france sends their private security personnel dragging ghosn to french prison n carole enjoys rest of her life in lebanon n nissan bcoms datsun n finally dinosaur type state owned renault bcoms extinct

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

If Nissan starts makes good cars and not use Renault's useless tactics they will be back in a year. Renault has taken Nissan's quality down from 10/10 to 5/10.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@coskuri - great link & a good read.  Thanks,

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hail, for Mr Ghosn, he did well, do not forget that the now “fugitive “ person according to the Japanese media, he say, I want to have a press conference, in Japan, to explain mi point of view, it was denied, he said that he will fully cooperate with 5he Japanese judicial sostén, and what happens, the Japanese, once more time put him in jail, is this normal for the Japanese, society..? If he kills him self, will be bette4 for 5he japanes media..? What’s is happening to the Japanese society, long time ago it was one of the more respected democracy society, now where the Japanese people has the preference and the foreigners always are the bad ones, why, this happens..? If he fled look his circumstances, is it normal, that anger 9 months they realice that his wife committed perjury..? Is it normal? Be rational...por Mr Ghosn, he spend more tha5 18 years, helping Japan...this is the kansha okaishi...?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Among those caught up in that were former CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who stepped down last year after admitting he had received more pay than he was entitled to.

What?! Isn’t this the core of the case against Ghosn? Why isn’t Saikawa arrested and thrown into solitary confinement? How much more of a farce can this possibly be?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Nissan cars are overpriced and looking old now-that’s the problem not Mr Ghosn

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bloomberg News has also reported that Nissan spent $200 million on lawyers, investigators and private detectives during the scandal, a claim that insiders dismiss.

"The figure is ridiculously exaggerated. You probably need to take one zero off," one source inside Nissan told AFP.

I love the line: “You probably need to take one zero off”!!

From $200M to $20M, I’m still falling out of my chair! But knowing legal fees in Japan, we ‘probably’ need to add that zero back in!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nissan has created a public relations nightmare. Any issues Nissan execs had with Ghosn’s spending should have been addressed within the firm to avoid damage to its brand image. But based on the coordinated actions between Nissan and Japanese prosecutors, there was clear intent to remove Ghosn above and beyond the alleged financial misconduct charges. The ruse has now backfired and Nissan is likely to suffer even more losses if investors lose faith in the company’s management and if consumers find the brand unappealing because of this event.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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