Nissan shareholders voted Monday to eject Carlos Ghosn from the board, as the detained former chairman fights multiple financial misconduct charges that have landed him in custody.
The extraordinary shareholders’ meeting at a Tokyo hotel was the first such gathering since the stunning arrest of the 65-year-old auto sector titan on November 19.
After several hours of questions from shareholders, fielded by CEO Hiroto Saikawa, they voted to remove Ghosn, as well as Greg Kelly, a US executive who served as Ghosn’s right-hand man and who also faces charges in Japan.
They also approved a motion to replace Ghosn with Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard.
Nissan sacked Ghosn as chairman almost immediately after his initial arrest but an extraordinary meeting of shareholders was required to remove him from the board.
Saikawa opened the meeting with a speech outlining the allegations against his former mentor, accusing him of misusing funds and seeking to conceal his compensation.
He and other executives bowed deeply before the thousands of shareholders at the meeting as it opened.
“We have to admit that there was a significant problem with our corporate governance,” he said, adding that he had been “extremely shocked when I learned of the misconduct.”
Nearly 4,200 shareholders attended the meeting, with many taking the chance of a question-and-answer session to slam Ghosn, but also raise concerns about how the scandal was allowed to occur.
“Nissan’s government isn’t working well. I really regret that,” 77-year-old shareholder Isamu Beppu told AFP before the meeting.
“If there is no rebuilding of its governance, there will be no revival,” he added.
Ghosn faces three separate charges. The first two relate to the alleged deferring of around $80 million in income and concealing this in official documents to shareholders.
The third, more complex, charge is that he attempted to transfer personal losses to Nissan and paid a Saudi contact who provided collateral from company funds.