Jose Munoz Photo: AP file
crime

Nissan top exec Munoz resigns amid broadened Ghosn probe

17 Comments
By Naomi Tajitsu

One of Nissan Motor Co's top executives has resigned, further rattling the Japanese automaker's management team as it broadens an investigation into ousted Chairman Carlos Ghosn's alleged financial misconduct.

Jose Munoz, widely considered as a close ally to Ghosn and a possible successor to lead the automaking partnership between Nissan and France's Renault SA, had been a "person of interest" in Nissan's widening internal investigation.

The 53-year-old, who was Nissan's chief performance officer and head of its China operations, made the announcement in a LinkedIn post on Friday. In a statement, Nissan said that Munoz had "elected to resign" from the company, effective immediately. It declined to offer details.

He becomes the latest executive casualty since Nissan in November removed Ghosn as chairman and fired representative director Greg Kelly.

The resignation deals another blow to the Japanese automaker which is grappling with the scandal at a time when it is struggling to shore up profitability in the United States and expand aggressively in China.

Reuters had reported earlier on Friday that the Japanese automaker was looking into decisions made in the United States by Munoz who led Nissan's North American operations from 2016 to 2018.

"Unfortunately, Nissan is currently involved in matters that have and will continue to divert its focus," Munoz said in his post. "As I have repeatedly and recently made clear to the company, I look forward to continuing to assist Nissan in its investigations."

People with knowledge of the issue have said that Munoz, who had been placed on a leave of absence earlier in the month, had not been co-operating with the internal investigation.

Ghosn, once the most celebrated executives in the auto industry and the anchor of Nissan's alliance with Renault, remains in custody in a Tokyo detention center since his initial arrest in late November.

Ghosn has been indicted on two counts of under-reporting his income, and aggravated breach of trust for temporarily shifting personal investment losses worth 1.85 billion yen ($17 million) to Nissan.

The scandal has sent shockwaves through the automotive industry and has escalated tensions between Nissan and Renault, where Ghosn remains CEO and chairman.

Munoz joined the automaker in 2004 in Europe and led its significant expansion in North America after the global financial crisis. Since then, Nissan has succeeded in raising its market share in the United States and posted record sales.

Earlier this year, Nissan tapped Munoz to oversee its operations in China where it plans to ramp up sales over the next few years.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

17 Comments

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He saw the writing on the wall and got out, good move... Nissan is a disgrace

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Cue the Doors, “This is the end.” for NISSAN.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

"Unfortunately, Nissan is currently involved in matters that have and will continue to divert its focus," Munoz said in his post. "As I have repeatedly and recently made clear to the company, I look forward to continuing to assist Nissan in its investigations."

People with knowledge of the issue have said that Munoz, who had been placed on a leave of absence earlier in the month, had not been co-operating with the internal investigation.

Cooperating or not cooperating? Anyways, Mr. Munoz if you are reading this I urge you to never come to Japan. They may be waiting at the airport to take you to a prison cell to make a coerced confession to things you may or may not have done. Enjoy your life in the US.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Saikawa pressured him to leave, so he can clear Nissan from foreigners and buy back Nissans shares as its continuing to drop on the stock exchage away from Renault, this is the reality and humiliaiton of practices here in the corporate world..

11 ( +16 / -5 )

Japan's Legal system is heading towards that of China's, not surprised he wished to leave before the attention fell upon him too.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

„it is struggling to shore up profitability in the United States and expand aggressively in China.“

All without foreign labour?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

'resigned' is another word for pressure to leave in Japan..

8 ( +10 / -2 )

He's in the USA, Chairman of Nissan North America operations

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Oh, make that Chinese operations. I'm guessing that means he's in China not Japan or USA. At any rate where ever he is, Nissan's friends can't get to him

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Japan's Legal system is heading towards that of China's, not surprised he wished to leave before the attention fell upon him too.

Japans legal system has reverted back to the 1930's, early 1940's. And it is getting worse.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Jose Munoz, widely considered as a close ally to Ghosn and a possible successor to lead the automaking

So this is Nissan way to clean up anything related to Ghosn, lucky for them Japanese judicial system can work for their favor. All they need to do just make some allegations.

After that the system will take good care of Ghosn for two plus six months out from public view.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Jose Munoz ... had been a "person of interest" in Nissan's widening internal investigation.

...until he resigned. Now he's not a person of interest because Nissan got what they wanted - another foreign executive out. If that weren't the case, it wouldn't be past tense.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

It may well turn out that they are a bunch of crooks caught with their hands in the till---time will tell.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@Ex-Res

Japan's legal system isn't heading anywhere—it has always been like this but nobody cared until a rich foreigner was caught up in it.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Getting all the foreigners out it seems, how does this help Nissan? They are still 43% owned by foreigners.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Munoz may know something about Ghosn's alleged financial conduct. Or maybe he knows nothing. But the whole investigation is getting really tangled and it's difficult to know which top executives (foreign and Japanese) at Nissan knew what was going on. If Munoz was involved, resigning from the company won't save him from prosecution. He probably should issue a clearer statement through his lawyer rather than posting a few comments on LinkedIn.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He had been a 'person of interest' to Nissan's internal investigation, is not to say he did anything wrong though, right? Nissan (not Prosecutors) are just looking for dirt on Ghosn.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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