Nissan asking shareholders to vote to oust Ghosn as director

By YURI KAGEYAMAFeaturesAssociated Press

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In this March 12, 2019, photo, former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, center, leaves his lawyer's office in Tokyo. Japanese automaker Nissan is sending out notices to shareholders asking them to dismiss former Chairman Ghosn as a director at an April 8 meeting. The notice will be sent out Thursday, March 14, Nissan Motor Co. said Wednesday, March 13. (Yukie Nishizawa/Kyodo News via AP)

Japanese automaker Nissan is sending out notices to shareholders asking them to dismiss former Chairman Carlos Ghosn as a director at an April 8 shareholders' meeting, the company said Wednesday.

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The notice, signed by Nissan President Hiroto Saikawa, will be sent out Thursday, Nissan Motor Co. said.

The notice says the agenda also includes the election of Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard as a Nissan director, on the condition that Ghosn is ousted.

Although Ghosn has been dismissed as chairman at Nissan, he remains on the board. Shareholders' approval is needed to remove him from the board.

Nissan is part of an alliance with Renault SA of France, and more recently with Japan's Mitsubishi Motors, that was largely cobbled together by Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades.

Ghosn, who was arrested in November, has been charged with falsifying financial reports in under-reporting his compensation, and breach of trust in having Nissan shoulder investment losses and making payments.

Ghosn, 65, says he is innocent because the compensation was never decided or paid, Nissan never suffered losses, and the pay was for legitimate services. He has indicated that he is prepared to fight to prove his innocence in court.

The notice from Nissan says its investigation also found Ghosn used company money for personal expenses.

The notice did not give specifics, but sources familiar with the investigation have pointed to fancy homes in Lebanon and Brazil, as well as expensive furnishings such as a chandelier.

The date for his trial has not been set. In Japan, preparations can take months. He was released on 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) bail last week.

A court rejected Ghosn's request to attend a Nissan board meeting that was held Tuesday.

Conditions for his bail restrict his activities to prevent him from any tampering with evidence. The court apparently saw his coming in contact with other Nissan officials as a risk.

It is unclear whether he will try to attend next month's shareholders' meeting.

Ghosn owns more than 3 million Nissan shares, or somewhat less than 0.1 percent of total shares, according to the most recent disclosure.

Senard appeared with Saikawa at Tuesday's board meeting at Nissan's Yokohama headquarters to drive home the message that the French-Japanese auto alliance remains strong.

Senard, also chief executive at French tire giant Michelin, took Ghosn's place as Renault chairman after Ghosn resigned following his arrest.

Senard told reporters that Ghosn is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. He also said he would not be chairman at Nissan but vice chairman.

It is unclear who will become Nissan chairman.

Also on the shareholders' agenda is the dismissal of Greg Kelly, a director who was arrested with Ghosn and accused of working with Ghosn in the alleged misconduct.

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