Hiroto Saikawa, the CEO of Nissan Motor Company/Bloomberg
The Nissan Motor Company Chief Executive sought the exception to help pay for the purchase of a new home, which former Ghosn aide alleges the executive initially had asked Nissan to buy for him.
Tuesday 11, June 2019
(Bloomberg) --A former senior board member of Nissan Motor Company said that the company’s current chief executive officer sought an exception on the sale of compensation-linked stock, which resulted in him earning a higher profit.
Greg Kelly, a former Carlos Ghosn aide, told monthly magazine Bungei Shunju about the alleged request granted to Hiroto Saikawa in 2013, who was a Nissan executive vice president at the time and became CEO about four years later.
The magazine quoted Kelly as saying Saikawa reaped an estimated additional gain of JPY 47 million ($430,000) when the stock award’s execution date was changed to 22 May instead of 14 May, a period during which Nissan’s stock appreciated about 10 per cent.
Kelly was removed as a representative director of Nissan in April and charged by authorities in Japan with under-reporting executive compensation. Kelly and Ghosn, who are both free on bail after having been jailed for weeks after their arrest in Japan, have denied wrongdoing and are contesting the charges against them.
The report raises questions about Saikawa’s knowledge of remuneration practises at the Japanese automaker. Saikawa was found by an outside corporate governance panel appointed by Nissan to have signed off on Ghosn’s retirement package, but the CEO hasn’t been charged with any crimes or accused of any wrongdoing.
Japanese prosecutors have said Ghosn’s compensation was under-reported, although it’s unclear how much if any of that was deferred for retirement.
The allegations come at an awkward time for Nissan and Saikawa as its two-decade old alliance with French automaker Renault may be in peril. Saikawa himself is under intense pressure to turnaround the Japanese automaker’s profit slide and devise a long-term strategy for Nissan following the ouster of his former mentor Ghosn.
Kelly said that Saikawa was fully aware of Ghosn’s compensation, including a proposal to provide the then-chairman with a consulting fee if he should retire from Nissan or accept a less prominent role in company.