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Nissan, Mitsubishi say Ghosn received unauthorized €7.8 million salary from JV

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. on Jan. 18 added to the list of allegations of financial misconduct against their former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, saying he received a salary and other payments from the companies' Netherlands-based joint venture totaling €7.8 million without the approval of its board.

Ghosn has been in jail in Tokyo since his arrest Nov. 19, 2018, after Nissan alerted prosecutors to its suspicions that the executive had under-reported his income since 2010 and temporarily transferred a loss-making foreign exchange bet to the company. Prosecutors subsequently charged Ghosn, who denied all allegations at a brief court hearing Jan. 8.

The companies now allege Ghosn conspired with former Nissan representative director Greg Kelly and others to draw up an employment contract that stipulated the payment of a salary from the joint venture without the approval of other board members. Nissan and Mitsubishi's CEOs, Hiroto Saikawa and Osamu Masuko, did not receive any compensation from the joint venture Nissan-Mitsubishi BV, or NMBV, the statement said.

"Nissan views the payments Ghosn received from NMBV to be the result of misconduct, and will consider measures to recover from Ghosn the full sum," the statement said.

Kelly, a U.S. national, was also arrested in November but was later released on bail, a privilege denied to Ghosn on the basis that he was a flight risk, according to media reports.

The joint venture is separate from Renault-Nissan BV, the Dutch-registered entity that incorporates the alliance between Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault SA through which three companies share costs related to procurement and manufacturing.

Ghosn remains both CEO and chairman at Renault, but the French automaker said Jan. 17 that senior representatives had begun looking into the "best option" for its future governance as it becomes increasingly likely that he will remain incarcerated for months pending his trial. French media reports have suggested Renault's board could meet Jan. 20 to determine Ghosn's replacement.