At the very end of March, Renault filed a new report with the legal authorities in France. This report concerns payments allegedly authorised by Carlos Ghosn to one of Renault’s distributors in the Middle East.
The question it raises is how a French company, listed on the stock exchange and whose accounts are audited and certified by the statutory auditors, could have failed to identify these so-called suspicious transfers in the annual accounts for the corresponding years?
On 2 April 2019, Carlos Ghosn publicly denied these accusations through his spokesman:
“The payments made by Renault to the distributor in Oman have not been diverted from their commercial objectives and under no circumstances has all or part of such payments benefited Carlos Ghosn or his family.”
This report is released in parallel of the campaign aiming to tarnish Carlos Ghosn’s image continued unabated with new so called revelations coming to light even in the most well-respected newspapers.
The Financial Times ran as a headline that during the ongoing audit at the Renault-Nissan (RNVB) holding, “Renault discovered the existence of 3 private jets” it did not know about. How could Renault and Nissan be unaware that these aircraft existed? Did Carlos Ghosn personally sign the lease contracts, conceal invoices and make payments in person on behalf of the company? Were they also unaware that Carlos Ghosn used one such plane to travel to Japan on 18 November last year and that Hari Nada had chartered another belonging to the company – widely reported in the media – for Greg Kelly so that the two planes could arrive at the same time in Tokyo for a simultaneous arrest?
The following day, April 3, 2019, Renault’s Board of Directors confirmed the report and instructed the Nissan and RNBV boards and the auditors to close their work quickly to put new governance and control systems in place.
In addition, Renault’s directors decide that Carlos Ghosn will not be entitled to the retirement pension provided for in his contract and recommend that shareholders do not validate the resolution relating to the variable portion of his compensation at the Group’s next Annual General Meeting. During this meeting, the Board also removed Carlos Ghosn from his position as a director of Renault.
Faced with these new accusations, Carlos Ghosn announced on Twitter that a press conference would be held a few days later. He intends to reiterate his innocence, put an end to the smear campaign against him and certain members of his family and state his line of defense.
The tweet was just published when some Japanese media (NHK and Sankei) announced that prosecutors were planning to arrest Ghosn again, casting doubt on his ability to speak publicly.