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Japan says ready to work for stability of Nissan-Renault alliance



TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan said on Wednesday it is ready to work for the stability of the Nissan-Renault global alliance following the stunning arrest of common Chairman Carlos Ghosn, as the Asahi newspaper reported prosecutors are weighing bringing a case against the Japanese automaker.

FILE PHOTO: Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, attends the Tomorrow In Motion event on the eve of press day at the Paris Auto Show, in Paris, France, October 1, 2018. Picture taken October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Nissan Motor Co has portrayed itself as a victim of Ghosn, one of the global car industry’s best-known leaders, who it accused of years of wrongdoing, including personal use of company money and under-reporting earnings. It plans to remove him from post on Thursday.

Japanese prosecutors arrested Ghosn on Monday, saying he and Representative Director Greg Kelly conspired to understate Ghosn’s compensation at Nissan over five years starting in fiscal 2010 as being about half of the actual 10 billion yen ($88.65 million).

The Asahi quoted unnamed sources as saying that the mis-stating meant Nissan also bore responsibility and that prosecutors were eyeing the possibility of putting together a case against it.

Prosecutors were not immediately able to comment. Nissan declined to comment on the report. Ghosn and Kelly, who has also been arrested, have not commented on the accusations so far and Reuters has not been able to reach them.

Ghosn has bestrode the alliance as chairman and chief executive of Nissan’s French partner Renault, and chairman of third partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

The alliance “is a symbol of Franco-Japanese industrial success and we will continue to support it,” Japan’s top government spokesman said on Wednesday, calling for a “stable relationship” between the three automakers.

Japan’s Nikkei business daily reported on Tuesday that Ghosn had received share price-linked compensation of about 4 billion yen over a five-year period to March 2015 but that it went unreported in Nissan’s financial reports.

Renault on Tuesday tapped its chief operating officer and a senior board member to fill in for Ghosn, but the board refrained from firing him while waiting for details on the allegations – a decision that could buy more time for an accelerated, permanent succession process.

Shares in Nissan rose 0.8 percent on Wednesday after falling nearly 6 percent a day earlier. Mitsubishi Motors was down 0.6 percent after losing nearly 7 percent on Tuesday.

Reporting by Elaine Lies and Sam Nussey; Additional reporting by Mayuko Ono; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman