Carlos Ghosn Replaced as Head of Renault, Remains Jailed in Japan
Renault has been under pressure to replace him as CEO as the former Renault and Nissan chairman remains in a Japanese jail, accused of financial misdeeds.
By CLIFFORD ATIYEH
Jan 25, 2019
UPDATE, 1/24/19: It's official: Carlos Ghosn has resigned as chairman and CEO of Renault. He will be replaced by Jean-Dominique Senard, currently president of Michelin, as chairman, while former Renault chief operating officer Thierry Bolloré will become CEO, according to a report by French newspaper Le Monde this morning.
UPDATE, 1/22/19: Carlos Ghosn is reportedly exiting Renault, according to Automotive News, citing unnamed sources from multiple publications. This means Ghosn would step down from his positions as chairman and CEO. He has already been ousted from chairman positions at Mitsubishi and Nissan. Renault has scheduled an "emergency" board meeting for this Thursday, January 24. We will update as more information is available.
Carlos Ghosn is losing both weight and support from the French government as he and now his wife attempt to combat allegations of financial misconduct at Nissan.
Ghosn's biggest supporter aside from his lawyer, who last week said there is "no evidence of a crime," is his wife, Carole Ghosn. According to various media reports, she wrote a letter, which has been made public, to Human Rights Watch criticizing the Japanese government for its detainment practices.
"For hours each day, the prosecutors interrogate him, browbeat him, lecture him and berate him, outside the presence of his attorneys, in an effort to extract a confession," she said, according to the Japan Times. "No human being should be detained under conditions so harsh that their only plausible purpose is to coerce a confession."
Carole claims her husband lost 15 pounds in two weeks from a diet of rice and barley, is only able to shower two to three times a week, was denied medications, and is pressured to sign translated documents without a lawyer present. Interrogations can reportedly last for up to eight hours a day, according to the Financial Times. His family is not allowed to visit and he has been repeatedly denied bail. But this is all common practice under Japan's legal system. Ghosn was arrested on November 19 and may be in jail for several more months until his trial date is set.
"We listen properly to claims made by the suspect," Shin Kukimoto said to the FT. "We don't do the kind of interrogation that forces a confession."
France on Verge of Removing Ghosn as Renault CEO
Meanwhile, France's finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, said on Wednesday that Renault wants to replace Ghosn. The jailed executive is still CEO of Renault, although an interim CEO is currently acting in his place. The French government has held a stake in the automaker since the end of World War II, when it nationalized the company and left founder Louis Renault to die in prison for allegedly working with the Nazis, and currently owns 15 percent.
"I have always said that if Carlos Ghosn were to be durably incapacitated, we'd have to move on to something else, and we're there now," said Bruno Le Maire, as reported by the New York Times.
Renault released a statement Thursday stating that the company is "actively working to find the best solution for the future governance of the group, with a view to preserving the company's interests and strengthening the Renault-Nissan Alliance."
For its part, Nissan is considering removing the position of chairman altogether and not replacing Ghosn, according to Bloomberg. The Reuters Japan news service, citing unnamed sources, reported that Nissan may file suit against Ghosn personally for damages related to his alleged financial improprieties.
Ghosn has been charged with making false disclosures about his income on Nissan's corporate financial statements, and the Japanese automaker has made other accusations against Ghosn for misusing company funds. Ghosn maintains his innocence.