TOKYO — Mitsubishi Motors has joined Nissan in accusing Carlos Ghosn of financial wrongdoing, saying on Friday that he secretly received compensation of 7.8 million euros, or almost $9 million, from a joint venture of the two automakers.
Osamu Masuko, Mitsubishi’s chief executive, told reporters in Tokyo that the automaker was considering suing Mr. Ghosn, the former chairman of both Nissan and Mitsubishi. The latest allegations come as Renault, the third automaker in the global car alliance that Mr. Ghosn ran, is preparing to cut ties with its star executive.
Mr. Ghosn has been detained in Tokyo since Nov. 19 on suspicion of understating his salary for eight years, and of temporarily transferring personal investment losses to Nissan’s books during the 2008 financial crisis. Mr. Ghosn has denied all charges. His lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.
Mitsubishi’s findings involve a joint venture between Nissan and Mitsubishi established in 2017 in the Netherlands. The company said Mr. Ghosn, who is listed as a director of the joint venture, drew up an employment contract that rewarded him €7.8 million in compensation.
The joint venture had been set up to distribute part of the savings generated by Nissan’s 2017 acquisition of Mitsubishi to the departments at the automakers that generated the savings, a kind of incentive scheme to bring the companies closer together.
The joint venture’s other directors — Mr. Masuko and Nissan’s chief executive, Hiroto Saikawa — were unpaid and kept in the dark about Mr. Ghosn’s compensation, according to Mitsubishi. The company learned about the payment only after Nissan shared the findings of its internal investigation into Mr. Ghosn, it said.
“Nobody, including myself, was informed,” Mr. Masuko said.
It is unclear whether Mr. Ghosn’s compensation broke any laws. The joint venture was an unincorporated subsidiary of Mitsubishi and Nissan registered in the Netherlands, meaning it is likely to be beyond the purview of Japanese financial regulators.
Mitsubishi’s allegations are the latest twist in a fall from grace for Mr. Ghosn, an industry titan. Nissan and Mitsubishi have already removed Mr. Ghosn from his posts as chairman at the two companies, though he remains on their boards.
Nissan owns a controlling stake in Mitsubishi Motors, while Renault is Nissan’s biggest shareholder.
Renault had stood by Mr. Ghosn, keeping him chairman and chief executive even as he sat in a Tokyo jail. But after a Tokyo court rejected his bail request Tuesday, the French government called for new leadership at the automaker. Its board is expected to meet in the coming days to consider cutting ties with him.
Two French officials, including the government’s representative on the Renault board, were in Tokyo for meetings this week, though Nissan has declined to comment on any discussions.
Naming a successor to Mr. Ghosn would not necessarily mean Renault considered him guilty of wrongdoing. It could instead reflect a realistic assessment of the executive’s inability to perform his duties from jail, where he has limited contact with the outside world.
Mitsubishi, meanwhile, will “push forward with its investigation,” Mr. Masuko said.
Orignially published in NYT.