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Ghosn's high salary the focus of attention in Nissan probe

Carlos Ghosn (Mainichi/Noriko Tokuno)

TOKYO -- Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, arrested on Nov. 19 by prosecutors here on suspicion of understating his income, has long been among the elite corporate leaders in Japan receiving top salaries.

Ghosn's pay from Nissan for the 2017 fiscal year was 735 million yen. Coupled with the 227 million yen he received as chairman of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and 7.4 million euros, or about 950 million yen, from French carmaker Renault in 2017, he made a total of some 1.9 billion yen in that period.

According to the Tokyo Shoko Research corporate information firm, Ghosn topped the list of domestic recipients of the highest corporate salary on three occasions -- fiscal 2009 with 891 million yen, 2010 with 982 million yen and 2012 with 988 million yen. He earned more than 1 billion yen for three years in a row from fiscal 2014 through 2016, but his ranking was between 5th and 9th place during that period.

The fiscal 2017 salary dropped about 30 percent from the previous year, and his ranking also went down to 18th. Nissan had explained that the decrease was due to his departure from the post of president in April 2017, the beginning of that fiscal period.

Nissan sets the total amount of executive compensation at 2.99 billion yen, an amount approved by a meeting of its shareholders. The amount for each board member is decided depending on the individual's contribution to the company's performance. The auto giant has not introduced a committee governance structure in which outside directors set board members' salaries.

Ghosn, despite his highly praised management skills, has faced criticism at shareholder meetings that his pay is "too high." Ghosn has emphasized that his salaries are "not high" compared to his counterparts at major American or European corporations.

(Japanese original by Naoya Matsumoto, Business News Department)

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