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  1. This Nissan concept is next year’s electric alternative to the Rogue SUV It has a twin-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain and new ProPilot 2.0 driver aids. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. When it comes to concept cars, there are two main kinds. There's the "half of this technology doesn't exist yet" kind, like the Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR we covered earlier this week. And then there's the "new model we're putting into production soon, but with a couple of cool touches that won't." The Nissan Ariya is the second kind, and after first appearing at 2019's Tokyo auto show, it has crossed the Pacific to meet the crowds at CES. And it's going to be an important car for the beleaguered Japanese OEM as it's almost certainly destined to go on sale next year as an all-electric alternative to the best-selling Nissan Rogue SUV. Truth be told, the Ariya did exist as the first kind of concept—sort of. In 2017 Nissan unveiled the IMX at that year's Tokyo show, which we learned would be powered by the company's next-generation battery-electric powertrain. Comparing the two in the gallery above, you can see how the Ariya is much closer to road legality. It has conventional doors, with conventional door handles. There are side view mirrors. The bodywork doesn't have large vertical slashes or vents that could swallow an errant pedestrian's arm. And the interior is a little fashion-forward but basically sensible. It's still officially a concept, and Nissan is keeping most of the technical specs to itself for now, but we do know that it sports the company's new twin-motor powertrain. The company also brought a modified Nissan Leaf to CES to show off the technology, which it's calling e-4ORCE. It even let some journalists drive it, which might make this the first time I've felt a pang of FOMO regarding my decision not to fly to Las Vegas this year. I'm also relatively sure that the production Ariya will use proper active cooling for its battery pack, but feel free to print this out and mail it to me next year if that proves not to be the case. On the inside there's a single 12.3-inch display that combines the main instrument panel and the infotainment system. Perhaps cognizant of the distraction risk, the Ariya also features ProPilot 2.0, which is a more advanced electronic safety net that uses a proper driver monitoring system like the excellent Super Cruise from General Motors. Listing image by Nissan Source: This Nissan concept is next year’s electric alternative to the Rogue SUV (Ars Technica) (To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link)
  2. A few short days after former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn’s flight from house arrest in Japan to Lebanon was first reported, more details are beginning to emerge. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the plan that secreted Ghosn out of house arrest in Tokyo and across Asia to Lebanon via Turkey was, perhaps expectedly, quite complex, involving the participation of a former Green Beret and the rumored musical instrument cases. Ghosn had been in Tokyo since he was re-arrested last year for allegedly breaking the terms of his probation from his first arrest last year on allegations of financial crimes while at the helm of the Nissan Empire. Ghosn’s release to house arrest came after he paid a record $14 million in bail and agreed to probation terms that significantly limited his ability to communicate with his family, subjected him to close surveillance, and removed his passports from his possession. All of this changed on Monday afternoon when reports of the former President of Nissan’s arrival in Lebanon began trickling in. The fact that Ghosn ended up in Lebanon was not so surprising (the man holds a Lebanese passport despite being born in Brazil), but the details of just how he got there from the house in Tokyo where he was being held seemed almost too extreme to be true. The first reports we saw described an escape by instrument case from the house he was being held in. When we first heard these rumors we were awfully skeptical. Japan isn’t the kind of country you can just waltz out of. Aside from being a chain of islands, the country is not exactly known for having porous customs and immigration enforcement. Now, though, it appears that some of the more far-fetched details have been confirmed, or at least clarified, by new reporting from the Wall Street Journal. A report the Journal published yesterday describes the plan to secret Ghosn out of Japan to Lebanon in greater detail than we had seen before, and even lends particular credence to the “musical instrument case theory” that has captured imaginations. Ghosn has maintained that he organized his escape from Japan on his own, but even the former chairman of Nissan-Renault needed some help to get the details right. The Journal claims that Ghosn reportedly turned to Michael Taylor, a one-time Green Beret with a reputation in the security contractor world for skilled exfiltration from sticky situations. Taylor allegedly prepared the plane used to remove Ghosn from Japan in Dubai, flying there to meet Ghosn late Sunday night for the flight to Turkey and on to Lebanon. The plan to remove Ghosn from Japan was reported set in motion after a December 28th hearing that signaled a delay in Mr. Ghosn’s trial proceedings, extending his already long house-arrest even further. The plan reportedly commenced at around 2:30 PM Sunday, when Ghosn was spotted leaving his house in Tokyo alone, hat and surgical mask covering his face. How Ghosn arrived at Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, more than 300 miles from the Tokyo house in which he was being held remains unclear. Though the details of Ghosn’s transit through Japan to a waiting plane remains a mystery, Turkish authorities have begun to piece together the flight details of Ghosn’s journey, which reportedly did involve the musical instrument cases previously rumored to have played a part. While many of us were picturing a conspicuously legged double bass cover, it seems that Ghosn was actually secreted aboard the plane in a set of wheeled black cases like the ones roadies use to transport stage show equipment. Once onboard in Osaka, this is reportedly how Ghosn made it to Beirut: Mr. Ghosn’s flight to Istanbul left at 11:10 p.m. Sunday and was in the air for just over 12 hours, passing over Russia before descending to Ataturk airport, according to flight records. In addition to the passengers, the plane carried two pilots and a flight attendant, the people familiar with the Turkish probe said. On the ground at Ataturk airport Monday morning in driving rain, a ground staff member took a photo of Mr. Ghosn, according to people familiar with the matter. That photo is in the hands of Turkish prosecutors. Mr. Ghosn was then driven in a car some 100 yards across the tarmac to a smaller jet that ferried him to Lebanon on Monday. Turkey-based aircraft operator MNG Jet Havacilik AS, which operated the two planes used in Mr. Ghosn’s journey, found the black container, and another holding loudspeakers, on the long-range aircraft after its flight from Japan. Upon arrival in Lebanon, Ghosn released a statement on his escape. In it, Ghosn maintained “I have not fled justice - I have escaped injustice and political persecution. I can now finally communicate freely with the media, and look forward to starting next week.” The new details of Ghosn’s journey to Lebanon come after Interpol announced that it had issued a “red notice” for Ghosn to Lebanon. While Interpol maintains that such a notice is not an arrest warrant, it is an instruction to arrest and detain a suspect pending extradition. Still, that does sound serious, even if it seems unlikely that Lebanese authorities will cooperate. As of now, it appears that Ghosn is safe in Lebanon, at least as far as extradition is concerned. The political situation in the country does remain rather fraught, but Ghosn has reportedly already met with the country’s President Michel Aoun though some local sources deny it. While Ghosn may be safe from the authorities, for now, Reuters reports that several arrests have already been made in Turkey, where an investigation is ongoing. Among those detained are reportedly the pilots who flew Ghosn from Japan. As the story of Ghosn’s escape from Japan continues to come into focus, we should keep an eye out for his side of the story later this week on January 8th. That’s when we’re expected to hear from the man himself at a press conference. Until then, we will be here with all of the details as they emerge. Updated: The Wall Street Journal has obtained a photo that purportedly shows the box Ghosn used to escape Japan: Source
  3. catch me if you can — Why did the former CEO of Nissan just get smuggled out of Japan? Interpol is after Carlos Ghosn, but he probably wasn't smuggled out in a box. Enlarge / Carlos Ghosn, former chairman of Nissan and head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, fled house arrest in Japan for Lebanon at the end of December 2019. Toru Hanai/Bloomberg via Getty Images The past few days have been filled with drama for one of the auto industry's most well-known executives. Carlos Ghosn used to run the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, a complicated partnership-not-a-merger between the three car makers that sells more metal than everyone other than Toyota and Volkswagen Group. But in November 2018, he was arrested by Japanese police on charges of financial misconduct and was replaced as the head of both Nissan and Mitsubishi. However, Ghosn claimed that he was being set up by rivals at Nissan, who he said were behind claims that he pocketed payments to Middle Eastern car dealerships and hid income beyond his multimillion dollar annual salary. After spending more than three months in jail, Ghosn was released on bail—a hefty $9 million (1 billion yen)—but was kept under house arrest. Rather than continuing to submit to the Japanese criminal justice system—which has a near-perfect conviction rate, sharing few of the same protections for suspects that exist in the US or Europe—Ghosn apparently decided a change of scenery was in order. Which is where it all gets a bit weird. Late on the night of December 29, he managed to flee the country for Lebanon; he holds Lebanese (as well as French and Brazilian) citizenship and is close with the Lebanese government, which does not have an extradition treaty with Japan. On New Year's Eve, Ghosn issued a statement from Lebanon saying that he would "no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied, in flagrant disregard of Japan's legal obligations under international law and treaties it is bound to uphold." The Japanese authorities are still trying to determine just how Ghosn managed to evade their surveillance. Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that Ghosn had two French passports, and the courts allowed him to keep one of them in a locked case rather than having it held by his lawyers (along with the Lebanese, Brazilian, and that other French passport). For their part, Lebanese authorities say he entered the country legally under a French passport. Initial reports that he had been hiding in a box meant to contain musical instruments for a band that played at his house are apparently wide of the mark. Instead, it's more likely that he was smuggled onto a private cargo jet in Osaka, bound for Istanbul, Turkey. The Turks aren't particularly happy about being involved and have arrested four pilots, two ground handlers, and the operations manager of the cargo company for their involvement in the escape. Now, Interpol has issued a "red notice" for Ghosn, who released a second statement on Thursday stating that his escape was all his doing and that neither his wife nor other family members were involved. Source: Why did the former CEO of Nissan just get smuggled out of Japan? (Ars Technica)
  4. Nissan’s bigger-battery BEV—the 2019 Leaf Plus review 214hp and up to 226 miles of range thanks to a 62kWh battery pack. Electric vehicles are the future of driving, even if it might take us a few more decades to get there. They were also the past of driving; early automobiles, as often as not, ran on battery power, and even Henry Ford's wife eschewed one of his creations for a more sophisticated European-made EV. It's just that right now, EVs aren't really the present of driving. I'm sure global EV sales will set another new record for year-on-year growth, but 2018's banner year still represented just 2.1% of global light-passenger vehicle sales. Of course, people can only buy electric cars if someone builds them. And it has taken a combination of draconian European carbon fines and diesel's utter disgrace for the world's biggest car makers to truly catch that religion. But there were some early converts. Like the charismatic car company CEO who bet big on mass-produced EVs and lithium-ion batteries, earning a description from Wired as "either a brilliant visionary or crazy as a loon." No, not that CEO, although I did discover that quote reading Edward Niedermeyer's forthcoming book on Tesla. I am referring to Carlos Ghosn, former CEO of Nissan and Renault, who wanted his companies building a half-million EVs a year—back in 2013. Obviously, that plan didn't quite work out, but Nissan sold almost 300,000 Leafs (Leaves?) by the time the second-generation Leaf went on sale in 2017. Many blamed the original Leaf's small battery size and low range for it failing to take the world quietly by storm. Indeed, there were plenty of similar complaints in the comments when we tested the second-gen Leaf, even though its 40kWh battery was 25% larger than the outgoing model. Which is where the $36,550 2019 Leaf Plus comes in. 45% more power, 55% more kWh Nissan was always planning a bigger-battery option for its BEV, and that option finally went on sale earlier this year. The Leaf now packs 62kWh of lithium-ion between its axles, and there's now a more powerful 160kW (214hp), 339Nm (250lb-ft) AC synchronous electric motor under the hood. Yes, the motor, inverter, and HVAC stuff still live under the hood—it's still a small hatchback, and that stuff had to go somewhere. And no, the battery still doesn't use liquid cooling, although it has a warranty for eight years or 100,000 miles against excessive loss of capacity. There are some other notable changes compared to the 40kWh Leaf. The Leaf Plus is capable of faster DC fast-charging; it will now accept up to 100kW, still via the CHAdeMO connector. There's a new 8-inch infotainment system, although you have to opt for the $38,510 Leaf Plus SV or $42,550 Leaf Plus SL trims if you want it to have onboard navigation. (Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard even on the Leaf Plus S.) The SV and SL also come with expanded connectivity via NissanConnect smartphone apps. The app lets you check on your car's status and start or stop it charging. You can also use it to remotely turn on the lights or the climate control, a useful feature if you park your car outdoors during summer. Otherwise, the new Leaf shares much with the car I tested a couple of years ago. That extra power is noticeable, though. The larger battery has added another 347lbs (157kg) to the party—a Leaf Plus weighs between 3,780-3,853lbs (1,714-1,748kg) depending on trim. But it's only about 10% more than the 40kWh Leaf; by contrast, the motor has 45% more power. Nissan says that the Leaf Plus is 13% quicker than the standard Leaf when going from 50-75mph (80-120km/h). If you do want to drive the Leaf Plus like a hooligan, the tires quickly reach their limits, and you're rewarded first with torque steer, then with understeer. I’m not sure it needs Normal mode In fact, I spent very little time with the Leaf Plus in Normal. It's more than quick enough for city life in Eco, which remaps the accelerator, limits power output, and reduces the energy draw from the car's climate control. Switching to Eco also resulted in a meaningful (~10%) increase in estimated range. During my week with the Leaf Plus, I averaged 3.5 miles/kWh from mostly city driving, exactly matching the EPA rating for the heavier SV and SL trims. According to EPA figures, the SV and SL have a range of 215 miles (346km); the lighter Leaf Plus S was scored at 3.6 miles/kWh and 226 miles (364km) of range. Unfortunately I wasn't able to test out the Leaf Plus with a 100kW DC fast charger, just an older 50kW unit. Nissan says that the Leaf Plus will go from 0-80% state of charge in 45 minutes at 100kW; at 50kW that takes an hour, and a full charge using 240v AC requires 11.5 hours. The 2019 Leaf Plus faces a much more crowded market than its brave predecessor back in 2011. There's the Tesla Model 3 obviously, although one of those will cost a good deal more; because Nissan has yet to sell 200,000 EVs in the US, all Leafs are eligible for the full $7,500 IRS tax credit. BEV buyers looking for value can also pick from the Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona EV, but only if they live in a zero-emissions state. And, of course, the venerable Chevrolet Bolt and BMW i3. (I mean, have you seen used i3 prices recently?) But the Leaf Plus is a good car; certainly the best new Nissan you can buy. Whether you think the extra range and power is worth the extra $6,000 over the already-good 40kWh version probably depends on how far your commute is and how many road trips you think you'll do. Listing image by Jonathan Gitlin Source: Nissan’s bigger-battery BEV—the 2019 Leaf Plus review (Ars Technica) (To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link)
  5. Nissan plans 12,500 layoffs after operating profits fall 98% All automakers have been struggling, but Nissan is among the hardest hit. Enlarge / Hiroto Saikawa, president and chief executive officer of Nissan, speaks at the company's headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, on July 25, 2019. Akio Kon/Bloomberg via Getty Images Nissan says it will reduce global headcount by 12,500 people over the next three years after a brutal quarter that saw net income fall by 95% year over year. Automakers around the world have been struggling in recent months. Ford said earlier this year that it would cut 12,000 jobs in Europe, while General Motors has announced plans to eliminate thousands of jobs in a series of cuts. Nissan has been having a particularly rough year. Then-Chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested in November 2018 on corruption charges, creating a massive distraction for the company. Nissan has a complex set of financial relationships with Renault and Mitsubishi that make management of the company more complicated. Since Ghosn's dismissal from Nissan's board, CEO Hiroto Saikawa has struggled to turn the automaker's fortunes around. Those struggles were evident in Nissan's latest financial results, which cover the April-to-June period. Nissan's revenues fell 13% from a year earlier, while operating profit fell more than 98%. Nissan had a dismal 0.1% operating margin. Saikawa believes that Nissan's fundamental problem is an excess of manufacturing capacity. The company is aiming to reduce its global production capacity by 10% by 2022. Nissan also plans to "reduce the size of its product lineup by at least 10 percent"—which presumably means eliminating some of Nissan's less-successful models. Nissan had announced plans to cut 4,800 jobs earlier this year, but the company upped the number to 10,000 earlier this week, and now to 12,500. Saikawa said most of the job cuts will be auto plant workers, CBS reports. Source: Nissan plans 12,500 layoffs after operating profits fall 98% (Ars Technica)
  6. DETROIT/PARIS (Reuters) - French automaker Renault SA, its Japanese partner Nissan Motor Co and tech giant Alphabet Inc’s Waymo are exploring a partnership to develop and use self-driving vehicles to transport people and goods in France and Japan, the companies said on Thursday. The proposed venture could also be expanded to other markets, the companies said. If the partnership is realized, it will have ramifications for other alliances and other self-driving projects, most of which have yet to hit the road. Automakers across the world are re-thinking independent autonomous vehicle efforts, and instead looking for partners to share rising investment costs and regulatory risks. In Japan, a potential competitor to a Renault-Nissan-Waymo venture would be Monet Technologies, a self-driving project involving Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co and backed by SoftBank Group Corp. SoftBank and Honda also have invested in General Motors Co’s Cruise self-driving car unit. The initial agreement among Waymo, Renault and Nissan aims to “develop a framework for deployment of mobility services at scale,” according to Hadi Zablit, Renault-Nissan Alliance business development chief. Physical testing of vehicles and deployment of services would come in later phases. The two automakers will set up 50-50 joint ventures in France and Japan to develop the driverless transportation services. Zablit said a later Waymo investment is “one of the options” under consideration. With Waymo, they will also research commercial, legal and regulatory issues related to building automated transportation-as-a-service businesses in the two countries. The agreement is time-limited and exclusive in both countries, barring either side from working with competitors. Its duration was not disclosed. It is not clear how involving Waymo might affect the existing alliance between Renault and Nissan, which has been strained since the departure earlier this year of longtime chief executive Carlos Ghosn, or a proposed merger between Renault and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. FCA and Renault reached a preliminary agreement in late May to pursue a $35 billion merger. But FCA Chairman John Elkann abruptly withdrew the offer on June 6 after the French government, Renault’s biggest shareholder, blocked a board vote and demanded more time to win backing from Nissan. Waymo late last year began offering a self-driving service in Arizona called Waymo One, but with a human monitor on board. Waymo also has an existing partnership with FCA under which the automaker is supplying Chrysler Pacifica minivans for Waymo’s fledgling self-driving fleet in the United States and eventually may buy self-driving systems from Waymo for its own vehicles. FCA also agreed in early June to partner with Aurora, the Silicon Valley startup co-founded by former Waymo chief Chris Urmson and funded in part by South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co. The alliance took an earlier step towards working with Alphabet last year, when it agreed to adopt the Google Android operating system in its future vehicles. Source
  7. LONDON (Reuters) - Carmaker Nissan has scrapped plans to build its new X-Trail SUV in Britain and will produce it solely in Japan, warning two months before Brexit that uncertainty over Britain’s departure was making it harder to plan for the future. Falling demand for diesel cars in Europe has forced Nissan to invest in other technologies and save costs. It cut hundreds of jobs at its Sunderland factory in the north of England, Britain’s biggest car plant, last year as output slumped 11 percent, hit by levies and crackdowns on diesel. “Nissan has increased its investments in new powertrains and technology for its future European vehicles,” the firm said. “Therefore the company has decided to optimize its investments in Europe by consolidating X-Trail production in Kyushu.” “While we have taken this decision for business reasons, the continued uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future,” said Europe Chairman Gianluca de Ficchy. Britain’s business minister Greg Clark described the announcement as a “blow to the sector and the region.” Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29. Lawmakers last month rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, heightening fears of a disorderly no-deal Brexit and of new trade barriers. May said on Sunday she would seek a “pragmatic solution”. “We have a task force in place, reporting to me, that is considering all of the possible scenarios and the potential impact on the business,” de Ficchy said in a letter to workers. Nissan builds roughly 30 percent of the country’s 1.52 million cars and exports the vast majority to the continent It said four months after Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016 that it would manufacture the new X-Trail in Britain - a major vote of confidence in the country and May, shortly after she took office. A source told Reuters at the time that Nissan received a letter from the government promising extra support in the event that Brexit hit the competitiveness of the Sunderland plant. The new X-Trail could have created hundreds of jobs. The carmaker’s planned investment in the next-generation Juke and Qashqai models, which was also announced in 2016, was unaffected, the firm said on Sunday. The timing of the announcement comes just two days after an EU-Japan free trade agreement kicked in, which includes the European Union’s commitment to removing tariffs of 10 percent on imported Japanese cars. Many Japanese companies had long seen Britain as the gateway into Europe, after being encouraged to open factories in the country by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher but Brexit has thrown that into doubt, prompting consternation in Tokyo. Sunday’s announcement also comes as the firm continues to deal with the fallout from the arrest of its former boss Carlos Ghosn, which has clouded the outlook for the automaking alliance between Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi. Source
  8. (Reuters) - One of Nissan Motor Co’s top executives has resigned, further rattling the Japanese automaker’s management team as it broadens an investigation into ousted Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s alleged financial misconduct. PHOTO: Jose Munoz Jose Munoz, widely considered as a close ally to Ghosn and a possible successor to lead the automaking partnership between Nissan and France’s Renault SA, had been a “person of interest” in Nissan’s widening internal investigation. The 53-year-old, who was Nissan’s chief performance officer and head of its China operations, made the announcement in a LinkedIn post on Friday. In a statement, Nissan said that Munoz had “elected to resign” from the company, effective immediately. It declined to offer details. He becomes the latest executive casualty since Nissan in November removed Ghosn as chairman and fired representative director Greg Kelly. The resignation deals another blow to the Japanese automaker which is grappling with the scandal at a time when it is struggling to shore up profitability in the United States and expand aggressively in China. Reuters had reported earlier on Friday that the Japanese automaker was looking into decisions made in the United States by Munoz who led Nissan’s North American operations from 2016 to 2018. “Unfortunately, Nissan is currently involved in matters that have and will continue to divert its focus,” Munoz said in his post. “As I have repeatedly and recently made clear to the company, I look forward to continuing to assist Nissan in its investigations.” People with knowledge of the issue have said that Munoz, who had been placed on a leave of absence earlier in the month, had not been co-operating with the internal investigation. Ghosn, once the most celebrated executives in the auto industry and the anchor of Nissan’s alliance with Renault, remains in custody in a Tokyo detention center since his initial arrest in late November. Ghosn has been indicted on two counts of under-reporting his income, and aggravated breach of trust for temporarily shifting personal investment losses worth 1.85 billion yen ($17 million) to Nissan. The scandal has sent shockwaves through the automotive industry and has escalated tensions between Nissan and Renault, where Ghosn remains CEO and chairman. Munoz joined the automaker in 2004 in Europe and led its significant expansion in North America after the global financial crisis. Since then, Nissan has succeeded in raising its market share in the United States and posted record sales. Earlier this year, Nissan tapped Munoz to oversee its operations in China where it plans to ramp up sales over the next few years. Since then, the world’s largest auto market has been showing signs of a slowdown, prompting the automaker to cut local production plans in the coming months. Source
  9. SAO PAULO/TOKYO (Reuters) - A Rio de Janeiro apartment containing cash, art works and personal belongings of Carlos Ghosn has emerged as the latest battleground between the indicted former Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) chairman and the automaker. Ghosn is seeking to retrieve “personal belongings, documents, cash, objects and art pieces” from the beachfront apartment, which Nissan owns. The company says the home could contain evidence of financial misconduct, according to its filing in a Brazilian court last week. The legal dispute has been fierce in recent days, showing that Ghosn and Nissan are not just clashing in Japan, where Ghosn was arrested last month and was formally charged on Monday, but around the world. Ghosn’s family obtained a favorable injunction last week that was swiftly overturned. A source at Nissan in Brazil said on Monday afternoon the Ghosn family still did not have access to the apartment. Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported the family obtained another favorable court decision on Monday but a Nissan spokesman said the company believed this was incorrect. The previously unreported court papers seen by Reuters show the extent of the legal dispute between Ghosn and Nissan over access to the apartment, one of several around the world he has been able to use. Nissan alleges Ghosn, who had been hailed for bringing the company back from the brink of bankruptcy, under-reported his income by tens of millions of dollars and diverted corporate funds for personal use. The Rio apartment contains three safes that Nissan has yet to open, according to the court filings. The carmaker found them when it did an audit of the apartment following Ghosn’s firing, the company said. The apartment also has “designer furniture, artwork and decorative objects,” it said. It was purchased by a Nissan subsidiary in late 2011 following the carmaker’s launch of a factory in the nearby city of Resende. “INCALCULABLE RISK” The apartment was bought on expectations that Ghosn’s trips to Brazil, where he was born and maintains citizenship, would “become more constant” after the factory opened, Nissan said in the filings. The apartment is in the Copacabana neighborhood, on a road directly facing Rio’s famous beaches. An apartment in the same building was listed online for 12 million reais ($3.07 million). Monday’s indictment in Japan puts the ball back in the court of Nissan’s alliance partner, Renault (RENA.PA). The French company, which owns a 43.4 percent stake in Nissan, is preparing for a Dec. 13 board meeting likely to consider Ghosn’s future as its chairman and chief executive. Renault has so far stopped short of dismissing Ghosn, while repeatedly demanding access to the findings of the Nissan internal investigation that led to his arrest. Court proceedings in Brazil started on Nov. 29, when a lawyer for Ghosn asked a judge to grant him access to the Rio apartment. Nissan says allowing him access would “represent an incalculable risk of destruction of potential evidence of crimes allegedly committed.” Ghosn has so far been denied access by Brazil’s courts. A lawyer for Ghosn, Jose Roberto de Castro Neves, told Reuters he was unaware of the existence of the three safes and that it was “absurd speculation” that they could contain evidence of wrongdoing. “He’s a very smart guy,” de Castro Neves said in a brief phone interview. “If he had done something wrong, he would never leave it in the apartment.” Tokyo prosecutors indicted Ghosn on Monday for under-reporting his income and also charged the automaker, making Nissan culpable for the alleged financial misconduct. Ghosn was arrested in Japan on Nov. 19 and is being held in a Tokyo jail. Ghosn has not made any statement through his lawyers in Japan but has denied the allegations, according to media reports. Source
  10. TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo prosecutors are due to indict ousted Nissan Motor (7201.T) Chairman Carlos Ghosn as well as the automaker itself on Monday, sources said, intensifying scrutiny of CEO Hiroto Saikawa’s role in the financial misconduct scandal. Ghosn was arrested on Nov. 19 on suspicion of conspiring to understate his compensation by about half of the actual 10 billion yen ($88 million) over five years from 2010. Nissan has said the misconduct was masterminded by the once-celebrated executive with the help of former Representative Director Greg Kelly. Tokyo authorities plan to re-arrest the two executives, the sources said, declining to be named as they were not authorized to speak with media. Media reports have said the fresh crime was for three additional years of under-reported income. The two would then remain in custody without bail. Nissan itself is also likely to be indicted for making false statements in an annual report, they said. A separate source said there were concerns running through the company that Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa and others may also be indicted. Asked about a potential indictment of the company itself, Nissan said only that it was cooperating with the prosecutors’ office and providing them with information related to misconducts. Analysts have said it could be difficult for Nissan to avoid blame, whether it turns out that other executives had knowledge of Ghosn’s misconduct, or that the company lacked adequate internal controls. “Normally, if it’s falsifying the financial filings, the company as well as the perpetrator is charged. That’s not surprising. It’s to be expected,” said prominent lawyer and former prosecutor Nobuo Gohara. “Now suddenly the issue of CEO Saikawa becomes bigger. It becomes difficult to overlook Saikawa’s role in all of this. That becomes the main focus now.” Ghosn and Kelly have not made any statement through their lawyers, but Japanese media reported that they have denied the allegations. Calls to Ghosn’s lawyer, Motonari Otsuru, at his office went unanswered, and the Tokyo prosecutors’ office said it could not comment on individual cases. NISSAN ON OFFENSIVE Nissan has stepped up its offensive against the executive once credited for rescuing the company from near-bankruptcy. The company said on Sunday that it was seeking to block access by Ghosn’s representatives to an apartment in Rio de Janeiro, citing a risk that the executive may remove or destroy evidence. A Brazil court has granted Ghosn access to the property, owned by Nissan, in the Copacabana neighborhood, but the company said in a statement that it was now petitioning a higher court to reverse the decision. Nissan has also blamed Ghosn for a series of infractions including personal use of company funds. While not commenting on the possibility that other executives may have had knowledge or been involved in the wrongdoing, it has acknowledged a need to improve its governance. Nissan’s board last month agreed to create a special committee and take advice from an independent third-party group about how to improve governance and oversight of director compensation. The arrest of Ghosn and Kelly also shook the foundations of the Renault-Nissan alliance and stunned the auto industry. Ghosn remains chairman and chief executive of Renault SA (RENA.PA). The key question is whether and how the ownership structure of the alliance might change. Ghosn, under pressure from the French government, had pushed for a deeper tie-up including a possible full merger between Renault and Nissan, despite strong reservations at Nissan. Some Nissan executives have long been unhappy with what they see as Renault’s outsized influence over the Japanese automaker, which dwarfs Renault in vehicle sales. Renault holds around 43 percent of Nissan, while Nissan has a non-voting 15 percent stake in the French partner. Source
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