Re­nault ‘to meet’ as Ghosn still de­tained

Business Day - - COMPANIES - Agency Staff Paris

The board of di­rec­tors at French car­maker Re­nault were to hold an un­ex­pected meet­ing on Thurs­day, two days after its CEO Car­los Ghosn made his first court ap­pear­ance in an al­leged Ja­panese fraud case, said a union source.

Agenda items have not been dis­closed to board mem­bers, Fa­bien Gache, a CGT union of­fi­cial at Re­nault, said.

Ghosn, 64, has been de­tained for more than seven weeks in Tokyo after his ar­rest on charges of un­der­re­port­ing his salary for years as head of Re­nault’s al­liance part­ner Nis­san.

Since his ar­rest he has been charged with a host of al­le­ga­tions of fi­nan­cial im­pro­pri­ety, though he has yet to be for­mally charged and has de­nied all the claims. Ghosn, once a tow­er­ing fig­ure in the ve­hi­cle in­dus­try, ap­peared hand­cuffed at a court hear­ing on Tues­day seek­ing to se­cure his re­lease be­fore trial, a re­quest that was de­nied by a judge who de­clared he was a flight risk.

One of his lawyers later con­ceded that Ghosn could spend a fur­ther six months be­hind bars be­fore his case comes to trial. That has raised wor­ries over the vi­a­bil­ity of keep­ing him on as Re­nault’s CEO, a post he has held since 2005.

Nis­san as well as Mit­subishi, the third al­liance part­ner, have re­moved Ghosn as chair of the com­pa­nies, but Re­nault has kept him on while ap­point­ing a deputy CEO to en­sure day-to­day man­age­ment.

The French car­maker has said in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions have found no signs of wrong­do­ing by its chief dur­ing his ten­ure.

The French gov­ern­ment, which holds a 15% stake in Re­nault, has also stood by Ghosn so far, say­ing that he must ben­e­fit from the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence. How­ever, trans­port min­is­ter Elis­a­beth Borne told French ra­dio this week that “ob­vi­ously, if this sit­u­a­tion con­tin­ues we’ll have to draw the con­se­quences”.

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