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Ghosn, exec reportedly co-signed deal deciding post-retirement pay

(Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn and a company executive jointly signed off on an agreement for Ghosn to receive a designated amount of his remuneration after his retirement from the automaker, those connected to the case have disclosed.

Ghosn, 64, was arrested and indicted on charges of understating the amount of his remuneration in financial documents, violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act. He was then served a fresh arrest warrant under suspicion of additional violations of the same law. The case surrounds an apparent plan to receive a certain amount of his salary after he left the helm of Nissan.

His signature on the after-retirement remuneration agreement was accompanied by that of a top executive from the Nissan corporate secretariat. That individual, through a plea bargain with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office special investigative unit, is apparently testifying to the effect that the amount that Ghosn was to receive was decided.

Meanwhile, while the former chairman has admitted to the existence of documents he signed, he has been denying any wrongdoing by insisting that the amount he was to receive in the future was undecided, and that therefore he was not obligated to write it down. However, if what the secretariat executive says is true, it would mean that Ghosn did violate the law by not including the amounts in the carmaker's annual reports to the Financial Services Agency.

According to those familiar with the situation, the agreement document was drafted based on the remuneration contract signed between Nissan and Ghosn when the company brought him in as chairman in 1999. Ghosn's total salary for each fiscal year and a breakdown of the amount into remuneration that would be declared and that which he would receive after his retirement from the firm, are reported to be written in the document. The remuneration amount for the 2010 fiscal year is reportedly listed in the document produced in 2011, and the fiscal 2011 and 2012 amounts in the papers created in 2013.

Of these documents, the secretariat executive says they were "reported" to former Nissan Representative Director Greg Kelly, 62, who was also arrested and indicted on the same charges as Ghosn. However, Kelly is denying that he received any report about the papers and was unaware of their existence. It appears that the documents themselves were carefully stored in the vicinity of the secretary's office, and only Ghosn and his close associates knew of their existence.

On Dec. 10, the prosecution's special investigative unit indicted Ghosn, Kelly and Nissan as a corporation for underreporting Ghosn's remuneration from the 2010 to 2014 fiscal years. Ghosn and Kelly were then served new arrest warrants for the amounts from the 2015 to 2017 fiscal years.

Before being arrested on the new charges, Ghosn's lawyer apparently requested to the prosecution that if they are to make a case for the eight years' worth of understated salaries, that they indict Ghosn once for all of it, rather than divide it into two separate charges.

"The target period is long, and the background and other factors differ between fiscal years," a top official from the Tokyo public prosecutors' office responded, emphasizing the appropriateness of their decision to divide up the case.

The Tokyo District Court on Dec. 11 approved an extension of the detention of Ghosn and Kelly until Dec. 20, and there is a possibility that it may be extended for another 10 days.

(Japanese original by Kenji Tatsumi, Kazuhiro Toyama and Kim Suyeong, City News Department)

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