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Nissan board votes to remove Carlos Ghosn as chairman 

Key Points
  • Nissan's board has voted to remove Carlos Ghosn from the role of company chairman.
  • The company will now appoint a committee to decide who will replace Ghosn.
  • Ghosn and Representative Board Director Greg Kelly are currently being held in a Tokyo detention center.
Nissan board ousts Carlos Ghosn as chairman

The board of Japanese auto giant Nissan has voted to remove Carlos Ghosn from the role of Chairman and Representative Director.

Nissan said on its website Monday that it will now form an advisory committee to propose nominations from the board of directors for Ghosn's replacement. A separate committee to review Nissan's governance and executive pay is also to be created.

The car company said the Nissan board "confirmed that the long-standing Alliance partnership with Renault remains unchanged and that the mission is to minimize the potential impact and confusion on the day-to-day cooperation among the Alliance partners."

In an explosive press conference Monday, Saikawa said that "over many years" Ghosn and Representative Director, Greg Kelly, had been under-reporting compensation amounts to the Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report.

Nissan added that, in regards to Ghosn, "numerous other significant acts of misconduct have been uncovered, such as personal use of company assets." The company said Ghosn had also made inappropriate investments.

Shares in auto firm Renault, where Ghosn remains as chairman and chief executive, have fallen 0.3 percent.

Within Nissan there are six full Board Members and three Representative Board members. The company also has four auditors. Executives at the French firm Renault (which Ghosn also chairs) reportedly also dialed into the Nissan board meeting.

The Tokyo Prosecutors Office has declined to comment on whether Ghosn has admitted to the claims, but said the Renault chairman is being held in a Tokyo detention center.

Nissan said Monday that a whistle-blower had passed information over Ghosn and Kelly to Nissan's auditors who then began a wider investigation. The evidence was then passed to Japan's public prosecutor.

The prosecutor said Ghosn and Kelly had conspired to understate Ghosn pay packet at Nissan from 2010 to 2015, adding that the two men had recorded only half the actual 10 billion yen ($88.5 million).

French government and Renault taking more cautious approach than Nissan

An alliance between Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi has been built up over the last two decades. Nissan and the French government each own 15 percent of Renault. In turn, the French auto firm holds a 43 percent stake in Nissan.

The French government had been pushing for a full merger between Renault and Nissan, prior to the unfolding scandal. Events of the previous few days have cast a shadow on the merger prospects and led some to speculate that a break -up of the three companies is now on the cards.

Ghosn is considered a hugely influential executive within the global automotive industry. The cross-ownership alliance of Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi have all enjoyed an upswing in fortunes under his leadership. After successfully restructuring Renault in the late 1990s, Ghosn earned the nickname "Le Cost Killer."

Born in Brazil, Ghosn became the world's first person to run two companies on the Fortune Global 500 simultaneously when he assumed the CEO roles at both Renault and Nissan in 2005. He stepped down as Nissan CEO in 2017.

In June this year, Renault shareholders voted by a slim majority to approve a 7.4 million euro ($8.4 million) pay package for Ghosn's work in fiscal 2017. According to other securities filings, Ghosn earned 735 million Japanese yen ($6.52 million) from Nissan and 227 million yen from Mitsubishi for the same period.