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Renault finds no irregularities in Ghosn salary

Renault SA has found no irregularities in the compensation of its embattled chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn, the French carmaker said in a statement Dec. 13 following a meeting of its board of directors.

Ghosn has been in prison in Tokyo since his arrest Nov. 19 after an internal investigation at Renault's partner Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. indicated that Ghosn, until then also chairman of the Japanese automaker, had underreported millions of dollars of income over several years and used company money to cover personal expenses.

The executive's arrest prompted Renault to review the conformity of Ghosn's compensation with local laws and standards, but the company said its preliminary conclusion was that it was compliant.

Nissan lawyers had briefed Renault lawyers on their investigation into Ghosn, the details of which were then presented to the board in a report. Renault's board has asked the lawyers to continue to liaise with Nissan lawyers and provide board members with a further update.

Renault's board added that "it does not have information concerning Carlos Ghosn's defence" at this stage and that it would continue with the current interim governance measures.

Nissan fired Ghosn two days after his arrest, but Renault's board said Nov. 20 that his status would remain unchanged at the French company until it receives evidence of the allegations against him. It appointed Thierry Bollore as interim CEO and called on Philippe Lagayette to chair board meetings in Ghosn's absence.

Japanese prosecutors on Dec. 10 pressed charges against Ghosn and Nissan senior adviser Greg Kelly and the company itself over false financial disclosures.

Ghosn's arrest exposed tensions between Nissan and Renault, which have worked together for almost two decades in a cost-saving alliance largely of Ghosn's making. Renault invested in Nissan in 1999 when the latter was on the brink of bankruptcy, and Renault now owns a 43.4% stake in the Japanese carmaker. Nissan, whose revenue is almost double that of its French peer, owns 15% of Renault but has no voting rights, a situation that has brewed discontent on the Japanese side as its profitability recovered.