Nissan CEO Saikawa resigns amid pay probe | News | DW | 09.09.2019
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Nissan CEO Saikawa resigns amid pay probe

The Japanese car manufacturing giant Nissan has announced the resignation of CEO Hiroto Saikawa. His exit comes as the company struggles with plunging profits and a scandal surrounding his predecessor, Carlos Ghosn.

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa on Monday announced he would stand down next week, after acknowledging that he had received dubious income, the automaker has said.

The 65-year-old, who took over as CEO only in 2017, is set to leave the Japanese multinational automobile manufacturer on September 16.

The move comes after an internal investigation found Saikawa had received excess pay after altering the terms of a bonus, a board statement released on Monday said. Saikawa is suspected of adding 47 million yen (€398,000, $440,000) to his compensation under a scheme according to which directors can earn a bonus if their company's share price rises beyond a certain level in a set time.

While Nissan officials maintain that Saikawa did not commit any illegal acts, they said that he should not have given the task to a junior executive.

"At the end of the day, the operation which should have been carried out by the president himself was ... delegated to others, which is a violation of the rules," said Motoo Nagai, a Nissan board member.

Saikawa admitted that while he was "not proud" of passing the task on to a company secretariat, he said his actions were "totally different from the intentional wrongdoing that was uncovered" during the internal Nissan investigation into disgraced former CEO Carlos Ghosn and US executive Greg Kelly.

Read more: Ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn released on bail

Carlos Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn is accused of underreporting millions of dollars in income

Nissan crisis

The CEO's resignation is another sign that the manufacturer is spiraling into further crisis after Ghosn's alleged financial misconduct. Ghosn is accused of hiding millions of dollars in income from shareholders and using Nissan funds for personal expenses.

Ghosn, who is awaiting trial, has continuously denied the allegations and accuses executives opposed to his plans to further integrate Nissan with top shareholder Renault of sabotage.

As a result of the corruption scandal, Nissan's relationship with Renault soured and Nissan's net profit plunged nearly 95% in the April-June period, leading the automaker to announce a cut in 12,500 jobs worldwide.

Watch video 01:34

Nissan to cut 12,500 jobs

Read more: France says Fiat-Renault merger must protect French jobs

Saikawa-Ghosn relationship

Prior the allegation, Ghosn was a mentor to Saikawa. However, Saikawa was quick to turn against Ghosn upon his arrest, accusing him of having a "dark side" and of abusing his power so that his alleged financial wrongdoing went unnoticed.

However, the spotlight turned to Saikawa after shareholders called for the CEO's resignation, accusing him of being too associated with Ghosn and the era of alleged corruption under him.

Read more: Ex-Nissan chief's wife, Carole Ghosn, questioned in Tokyo over yacht purchase

New Nissan CEO

The firm's current chief operating officer,Yasuhiro Yamauchi, is expected to take over as acting CEO on September 16 following Saikawa's official departure.

A permanent replacement will be announced by the end of October.

mvb/tj (AFP, AP, dpa)

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